Our bodies need energy, fuel

fuel

Our cars and bodies need fuel or some form of energy to keep running.

Like a car we need to fuel our bodies.

I was talking to a friend recently telling her how I am teaching five cycle classes a week (among numerous yoga classes). Her next question was, are you in crazy great shape? (That’s not a quote. But she said something like that.)

I told her I am maintaining my weight and am content. (I like to eat and drink … in moderation, of course.)

But because I am not currently tracking my food I need to be careful and make sure that I am still eating the right things and enough even with my regular cardio workout.

When the cardio increases and/or the exercise gets intense we need to make sure our bodies have enough “fuel,” such as protein, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, fat and even saturated fat, among many other nutrients.

I am a big believer in protein. I can tell when I haven’t had enough of it. And I know that I need a well-balanced diet.

Protein has a lot more functions than repairing and growing muscle tissue. … Protein increases satiety at meals, which can lead to overall decreased calorie consumption, according to an article in Muscle & Fitness.

According to Ben Greenfield Fitness, eating less does not create the need to burn body fat. Instead, it creates the need for the body to slow down. Contrary to popular opinion, the body hangs on to body fat. …

So in other words, we need to make sure we are feeding our body what it needs and not deny it fuel and nutrients.

I practice yoga regularly (and teach at least three times a week, usually more) and teach cycle, which means I do all the cardio with the class with a microphone and instructions, five times a week.

I believe before you exercise you need energy/fuel to do cardio, therefore you should eat before you exercise. Others may disagree. The other side is also explored in an article titled Five Cardio Myths Exposed.  I try to eat at least an hour before so I have the fuel and energy I need, but that I don’t feel sick to my stomach. My normal breakfast is multi-grain toast with peanut butter and banana. Sometimes it’s oatmeal or cereal.

Most bodies need to have glucose to burn as fuel in order to exercise at a high-intensity levels, according to BodyBuilding.com.

There are many reasons why your body will continue to store fat, even if you have a regular cardio routine:

  • When you get stressed out there are higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, which can cause increased abdominal fat, according to About Health.
  • Excessive amounts of cardio lead to an overproduction of cortisol, which leads to more abdominal fat and numerous health problems, according to Muscle & Fitness.
  • A big myth about exercising is that more is better. This goes hand in hand with thinking that you are burning more fat with more exercise, which is not true. Not too mention the more people workout, the lower they drop their blood sugar and if they go too hard and go into a hypoglycemic state guess what will happen, they will rebound with sugar cravings and most likely end up drinking/eating more calories than they even burned in the first place. Not too mention the increase of cortisol you will get from extended workouts (over 45-60min) that will start to break down and use muscle as fuel, according to The Life.
  • When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases, which means that your body is more likely to store fat, and your cortisol goes up, according to Muscle & Fitness.

There is a recurring word in those bullet points: cortisol. If you want to read more about it you can read a couple of posts I wrote: November 2013 titled Keeping Balanced with Restorative and another March 2014 titled Coffee and adrenaline.

Here’s a really great article/paper titled Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight. A few points from the paper say: Cortisol directly affects fat storage and weight gain in stressed individuals. … Animal and human studies have demonstrated that cortisol injections are associated with increased appetite, cravings for sugar, and weight gain. … High levels of cortisol cause fat stores and excess circulating fat to be relocated and deposited deep in the abdomen, which left unchecked can develop into or enhance obesity.

I’ve talked about protein, weight, cortisol, cardio and a few other things. So lastly, let’s address diet and the fat you consume.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep your intake of saturated fats as low as possible. We can’t eliminate saturated fat from our diets completely, because foods that are good sources of healthy fats—olive oil, walnuts, salmon—also contain a little bit of saturated fat. And it would be a mistake to cut back on nuts, oils, and fish to minimize saturated fat, according to The Nutrition Source on Harvard T.H. Chan.

Eating whole non-processed foods are the best way to burn fat and gain muscle. Eat whole food proteins, healthy fats, veggies, fruits, nuts….and skip the breads, cereals and other processed foods. You need amino acids, vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients available in plenty with whole foods for maximum fat burning and muscle building. Eat a diet of whole foods, forget the stuff that is destroying your body (esp sugar!), according to The Life.

This post blossomed and came into something different than I had originally planed. I could continue to do research and write more and more.

But let’s end with this: A balanced life of eating relatively healthy, drinking enough water and being active  is a great way to stay healthy and live a long and happy life.

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