How to Eat Yourself Fitter Okay, so today's tip is all about protecting your immune system so you can perform at your best all year round. The key is, quite simply, what you eat... especially AFTER you're been doing exercise.
Truth is, you can follow all the fancy training programmes you
want, but if you're laid up with coughs and colds each winter, you're
never going to reap the rewards of all that hard work. So you need to ensure your body gets enough of those nutrients that support your immune system, including:
• Vitamin A - well
supplied in liver, eggs, all orange and red fruits and vegetables such
as carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots.
• Vitamin C - found in citrus fruits such as oranges and
grapefruits, kiwis, all the berries, also well supplied in tomatoes and
• Vitamin D - good sources include eggs, milk, butter, cod liver oil and some other fish oils.
• Essential fatty acids
(i.e. omega-3 and omega-6 oils) - good sources include all the fatty
fish (trout, sardines, herrings, salmon, mackerel, pilchards, etc.) as
well as unrefined whole grains and nuts and seeds, especially, hemp,
flax, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
• Zinc - a vital immune nutrient; good sources are high
quality, lean cuts of meat and fish and shellfish; also found in whole
grains and some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
• Selenium - well
supplied in unrefined whole grains (eg wholemeal bread), all seafood and
some nuts and seeds, especially Brazil nuts.
But as well as the above, you need to consider a post-exercise nutritional strategy.
What you should eat AFTER you train
In recent years, studies have shown that low carbohydrate
consumption is associated with increased levels of stress hormones and
Why? Because when your
carbohydrate stores are low, vigorous exercise starts a process called
'catabolism'. That's where body tissue such as muscle is broken down in
order to provide energy.
Catabolism is associated with higher levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which lowers immunity.
So you should keep your
carbohydrate levels topped up at all times, so that you're not training
with depleted levels of muscle carbohydrate (glycogen).
Here are some guidelines that will help you do just that:
• Dietary carbohydrate -
Ensure your daily diet provides an ample supply of carbohydrate at all
times, with around 60% or more of calories from carbohydrates
(unprocessed, whole grain breads, pasta and cereals, rice, corn, all
types of fruits and vegetables, beans, peas and lentils). If you train
in the evenings, make sure you consume sufficient carbohydrate both at
breakfast and lunchtime.
• Carbohydrate drinks -
For longer (60+ minutes) or more intense training sessions, you should
consume 500-1000mls of a 6% carbohydrate drink (around 60 grams of
carbohydrate per litre of water) each hour during training. This will
help to reduce the extent of carbohydrate depletion during exercise.
If you'd like more
nutritional advice, based on all the latest scientific evidence, then
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