4 NEW RULES OF NUTRITION FOR WOMEN TO STRENGTHEN CORE
Core Performance Women breaks nutrition down into four simple strategies, along with some advice on what to eat before, during, and after a workout. If you can master these techniques, combined with the Core Performance Women workout program, you’ll be in a phenomenal position to thrive in all aspects of your life.
1. Eat Clean
When it comes to eating clean, it’s not just about washing your food thoroughly, though that’s always important. Eating clean refers to making the best possible choice whenever you’re selecting food. Amanda encourages women to “come back to earth,” choosing the least processed food available. Whole foods are the best choice, since they’re unprocessed and unrefined, or at least processed and refined as little as possible prior to consumption. Whole foods typically do not contain added salt, sugar, and fat. When grocery shopping you’ll usually find whole foods on the perimeter of the store. That’s where you’ll find the produce, meat and seafood, dairy, frozen foods, and other natural foods. These areas are refrigerated, which is no coincidence. The less processed a food is, the shorter the shelf life.
The middle aisles of a grocery store are the danger zone. Here you’ll find snack foods, baking supplies, cereals, sodas, and condiments. Many of these processed foods can (and do) remain on shelves for months. It’s not necessary to avoid these aisles altogether—there are some nutritional gems to be found, such as tea and whole-wheat pasta and couscous—but generally, it’s a good rule of thumb to work the perimeter. Eating clean also means consuming the proper mix of carbs, proteins, and fats. All food is classified into these three nutrient groups, and if you neglect any of the three, you deprive your body of important nutrients you need to perform at your best.
2. Carbs: aka “Power Fuel”
Throughout the 1990s popular diets conditioned people to believe that carbohydrates must be avoided at all costs. Just as the anti-fat trend of the 1980s indiscriminately gave fats a bad name, carbs were unfairly labeled as the enemy. Thankfully most people now recognize the importance of carbs to healthy eating. Carbs are our primary fuel source. They provide energy for muscle function and act as the primary fuel for the brain. When you don’t take in enough carbs, your body does not run efficiently or effectively.
Think of carbs as fuel for your body’s gas tank. When consumed in the proper amounts, carbs are used for energy and stored in the liver and the muscles for future energy needs. If you eat too many carbs, they will overflow the gas tank and be stored as fat. But if you don’t eat enough carbs, you’ll run out of fuel, which means low energy, decreased focus, and even nasty mood swings. You need to fuel your body based on the size of your gas tank.
When you follow the Core Performance Women program, you will require much more fuel than someone who doesn’t exercise. Working out regularly burns a lot of fuel and demands sufficient carbs. As your training increases over the course of a week, month, or year, so should your carbohydrate intake. It’s that simple: Eat carbs in proportion to your activity. However, don’t lump yourself in with the sedentary and inactive —low-carb diets are not for you, and you will start to see a decline in your energy level and performance should you follow such a program.
Not all carbs are created equal. When planning meals, avoid processed carbs such as white breads, pastas, and baked goods. They provide little nutritional value and are converted quickly to sugar and easily stored as fat. Instead include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains for their fiber and nutrient density. Your meals should consist mostly of colorful high-fiber vegetables and antioxidants that help to protect the body from the cell-damaging effects of free radicals. If you opt for pasta or couscous, choose the whole-wheat option. If you reach for rice, opt for brown rice or wild rice.
3. Fiber Up
Most people don’t get nearly enough fiber in their diet; you need between 25 and 30 grams per day, and most people get less than half that amount. When choosing whole grains, look for products that include at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Because fiber is found mostly in carbohydrates and is essential to overall health, people who follow low-carb diet plans deprive themselves of this vital source of nutrition. Fiber improves gastrointestinal health and function and helps prevent colon cancer. It regulates blood sugar levels, keeps you full, and promotes long-term cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women. Cholesterol levels, which are correlated with heart disease, can be controlled by getting adequate fiber in your diet. Fiber is found in oatmeal, beans, whole grains, fruits, and green leafy vegetables.
You can also get it in bottled form. Psyllium-based products, such as Metamucil, are a terrific source of fiber that you can sprinkle on your meals to improve their nutritional value or even mix into water and drink. Our mothers and grandmothers were not crazy when they would mix the fiber into liquid in the morning. Now we know that fiber and fiber supplements go far beyond helping our “regularity” and are vital to cardiovascular health. One of my favorite sayings is “Eat a rainbow often.” When you look at your plate, you should see a lot of colors from fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber grains.
4. Meal Assembly
These days it’s difficult to find time to plan, prepare, and enjoy full meals. That’s why I find it valuable to “assemble” meals rather than cook or prepare them. Prepare for your week on Sunday by grilling a large quantity of chicken, fish, and lean red meat. Steam vegetables and sliced tomatoes. Cook plenty of good carbs, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole-wheat couscous and pasta. Grab some prepackaged organic salad mixes and place everything into single-serving containers. That way you’ll have plenty of food for the week ahead.
Another easy strategy is to purchase pre-cooked rotisserie chickens, which are readily available and inexpensive. Peel off the skin, pat away the excess oil, cut up the bird, and you’ll have enough meat for two to four single meals. Not only will you have meals to get you through much of the workweek, but you also can fill a small cooler and keep it in the car for those weekend days when you’re out training or running errands. You’ll find that it’s easy to create a high-performance nutrition plan that’s adaptable to any lifestyle and that saves you time and money.
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