Just like an engine, you need to make sure you fuel your body properly so that it works with optimum efficiency. Here’s a four-part plan, to do just that.

Step One: Eat Every Three To Four Hours

The key is preparing your meals in advance. Invest in a compartment lunch bag, stock up on healthy protein bars and flapjacks and use the food guides on these pages to ensure you are eating foods that include all your essential minerals and vitamins.

Dr. Abdullah Says: 

“Eating regularly not only helps to control your appetite but starvation slows down metabolism
and cannibalises lean muscle tissue.”

Step Two: Eat Protein With Every Meal Or Snack

If endless meals of chicken, turkey, beef and eggs are leaving you feeling uninspired, there are some alternatives that provide protein and add variety to your meals and snacks. Some of these include oatmeal, bagels, bulgar, quinoa, soybeans, cottage cheese, nuts, seeds and pulses.

Dr. Abdullah Says: 

“Eating carbs alone will cause an insulin spike that would lead to a sudden crash of energy. Including protein with your meals and snacks will make you feel fuller for longer and will help to maintain a higher nitrogen balance in your muscles.”

Step Three: Avoid Concentrated ‘Simple’ Sugars

Avoid simple sugars:

Fruit juice

Soda/fizzy drinks

Candy

Cake

White bread

White pasta

Packaged cereals

Choose complex carbs:

Green veg juice

Soy milkshake/skimmed milkshake

Dried fruit, eg. apricot/prunes

Fruit, eg. strawberries/pears/apples/oranges

Multi-grain/wholemeal bread

Wild/brown rice

Oatmeal/muesli

 

 

Dr. Abdullah Says:

“The best and only time to consume simple sugars is immediately post workout. Otherwise, choose starchy complex carbs like whole wheat and potatoes, to avoid the sudden crash of energy.”

Step Four: Complete Your Set Of Vitamins & Minerals

Top vitamins and minerals for athletes…

B Vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Folate, Vitamin B12) to ensure muscle tissue can grow and repair itself. 

  • Natural sources include meat, fish, shellfish, milk and eggs. For vegetarians and vegans, look for lentils, nuts (especially almonds and pecans), dark green leafy vegetables, and dairy substitutes and cereals that have been fortified.

Vitamins C and E to keep you feeling healthy by protecting your cells and increasing oxygen capacity.

  • Natural sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, papaya, berries, broccoli, peas and tomatoes.
  • Natural sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds and their oils, such as wheatgerm oil and sunflower oil. Other sources include avocado, Swiss chard, kale and spinach.

Calcium for bone health, and vitamin D to aid calcium absorption.

  • Natural sources of calcium include cheese, yoghurt, milk and sardines or fortified non-dairy milks, cereals, breads and soybeans. Get your vitamin D from fatty fish (tuna/salmon/mackerel), liver, eggs and fortified milks, juices and cereals.

Magnesium to aid performance by stabilising hormones, cellular health and immunity.

  • Natural sources of magnesium include nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, yoghurt/kefir, bananas, fish and dark chocolate (finally!).

Zinc for muscle repair, healthy immune system and energy.

  • Natural sources include seeds (pumpkin/sesame), garlic, chickpeas, wheat germ and dark chocolate.

Dr. Abdullah Says:

“Vitamins and minerals are essential for health and vitality. They boost the immune system, aid recovery and improve sleep.”

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