The other morning after a workout Coach Ben was giving us a few words of wisdom with regards to recovery. Dropped in to the middle of this advice were the words “Eat clean.” I knew what he meant.
Wind back a few months, and I started this year with the commitment to myself to get on top of my health. At the end of last year I found myself in a slowly but steadily worsening position. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was getting regular head aches and nausea. My blood pressure was creeping up. I was constantly feeling stressed. I was sporting a series of minor injuries that just refused to go
away. And most notably, I was getting exactly nowhere with my training, in fact I felt I was going backwards.
Much of this, I believe, was the byproduct of stress. But along with that I had slowly allowed more and more poor lifestyle choices to creep in. Nutritionally I was eating reﬁned sugars and carbs daily, and in increasingly large amounts. I was also drinking huge amounts of caffeine and too much alcohol. These very choices were eroding my ability to cope with the stress.
Now, a few important comments. Firstly, when we work out, it stresses our bodies. It’s meant to. Secondly, if you are in a good place your body will respond positively to that stress by adapting – getting stronger and ﬁtter – but if you aren’t… You get it. Thirdly, how you eat WILL IMPACT HUGELY how well you respond to training (and any other kind of stress).
In short, I won’t bore you with why, but take it from me: if you have a poor diet then you are very likely to experience, among other things:
- Poor recovery after working out and reduced ability to put on more muscle
- Chronic inﬂammation and poor healing – injuries may stick around
- Increased sense of being stressed
- Poor sleep
- Poor concentration and impaired memory
- Impaired immunity – you’ll get sick more often
So what does it mean to “eat clean”? The simplest way is to eat Paleo. If you’re not sure what that
means then look it up or ask a coach. If Paleo’s not your cup of tea, then there are certain things
you should be doing if you are training hard (like we do). These include:
- Eliminate or dramatically reduce reﬁned sugars – sweets, lollies, cakes, biscuits, ice cream, etc, and if you must eat chocolate then stick to the good quality ultra dark stuff.!
- Eliminate or dramatically reduce reﬁned carbohydrates and starches – bread, rice, pasta, grains, potatoes. If you are going to eat grains or grain-based foods, then stick to whole grains. (By the way, most breakfast cereals are just sugar in a box, no matter how much they claim to be good for you.)!
- Increase the plants in your diet – good quality vegetables, particularly leafy greens, and sensible amounts of fruit too, are important for vitamins, minerals and ﬁbre.
- Increase the amount of healthy, lean protein in your diet, including seafood (unless you’re allergic), meat, poultry, game, and eggs.
- Be aware of where you source your food from – fresh is important, local is better, organic is best, and with meats and animal products it makes a difference if its free-range or pasture fed as opposed to factory farmed.
- Don’t be shy of including good, healthy fats in your diet – cook with olive oil or butter, eat nuts, avocado, etc, and avoid low-fat options (usually there is lots of added sugar to replace the fat).
I sorted my diet out, and since then all of the issues I was experiencing have improved – I’m sleeping better, my niggling injuries have almost all resolved, I feel less stressed, I’m losing weight and putting on muscle, and my blood pressure has gone down to normal. Best of all, I’ve started to see improvements in the gym again.
So be sensible, eat clean, train well
Dr Sam Bettison (Chiropractor)