Why Nutrition Is The Most Important Part of Your Fitness Routine

  •  Why Nutrition Is The Most Important Part of Your Fitness Routine
  •  Exercises You Can Do When You're Sick

 The food we eat plays an important role in how we look and feel. Regular exercise is important but according to research, nutrition has the largest impact on our fitness. Using food as our medicine has become a popular theme for health improvement. The trend is now to focus on healthy food intake as a primary fitness goal. When healthy eating habits become a lifestyle, we are healthier and happier. ​Eating right allows us to reduce body fat, lose a few kilos, feel more confident and reduce our risk of illness. Some physicians are teaching healthy eating habits and lifestyle as a way to improve overall health by reducing obesity and related disease.

Nutrient-dense foods, or "superfoods," include lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and fats essential to our health. Superfoods are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants are shown to reduce inflammation in our body helping us fight disease and illness. Inflammation is said to be the leading cause of many diseases. Powerful antioxidants in leafy greens and vegetables, for example, help detoxify the body removing harmful chemicals. Some superfoods contain compounds that increase our metabolism for more efficient fat burning. Red capsicum contains a molecule called capsaicin shown to enhance the rate we burn body fat.

Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant naturally occurring in a wide variety of plant foods. In fact, quercetin research indicates it to be one of the most potent antioxidants with numerous health benefits. Many athletes supplement with quercetin to reduce muscle inflammation caused by intense workouts. According to a study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, quercetin supplementation significantly improved athletic performance, increased metabolic rate and lean mass among athletes.

The following foods are a rich source of quercetin:

  • Apples 
  • Onions 
  • Broccoli 
  • Berries 

Your best fat burner is not going to come in a bottle but by eating foods containing certain compounds. We can increase the rate we burn fat naturally according to nutrition research. Eating foods that stimulate and enhance the fat burning process will help us reduce fat more effectively. Adding metabolism boosting foods will be a great supplement to your existing workout and nutrition program. The following foods are shown to increase our metabolism:

  • Hot peppers (active component capsaicin) 
  • Green tea (active component caffeine) 
  • Black coffee (active component caffeine) 
  • Cold water (500 ml of water daily increased metabolic rate by 30%) 
  • Whole grains (aiding component fibre and iron) 
  • Yogurt (aiding component calcium and probiotics) ØApples (aiding component fibre) 
  • Nuts and seeds (aiding component essential fatty acids) ØFatty fish (aiding component Omega-3 fatty acids)

Peanut butter just so happens to be the number one sports nutrition superfood. It contains healthy fat, is nutrient-dense and shown to provide long-lasting energy for optimal athletic performance. Selecting natural or organic peanut butter is recommended to avoid added sugar and preservatives. Peanut butter contains quality nutrients and supplies lasting energy at 90 calories per 2 tablespoon serving. It also contains 7 grams of protein per ounce compared to other nuts only supplying 4 grams. Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle growth. It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol making it a heart-healthy food. Research indicates consuming 1.5 ounces of peanut butter per day may reduce the risk of heart disease.

The term fitness food is interchangeable with superfoods. Eating a diet rich in fitness foods is essential to our health. Incorporating healthy nutrition and knowing what that means is vital to achieving a lean and healthy body.The following is a list of foods favoured by fitness enthusiasts:

  • Oats (high in fibre, improves digestion/increases metabolism) 
  • Eggs (protein source, muscle building) 
  • Greens (antioxidants, reduces inflammation) 
  • Apples (antioxidants, reduces inflammation/increases metabolism) 
  • Lean meats/fish (amino acids, protein source, muscle building)

Should we drink coffee? This is a popular question and although not the best drink for some, overall studies show coffee as beneficial to our health and fitness. Coffee contains antioxidants but also caffeine. Caffeine is a natural stimulant shown to increase our metabolic rate. Many athletes are using coffee as a pre-workout drink to benefit from this effect. Low to moderate doses (1-2 cups) of coffee are shown to significantly improve athletic performance.

Drinking black coffee 30 minutes prior to exercise is said to have the best ergogenic results. It's shown to improve our endurance and enable us to exercise longer. Coffee is also indicated to improve our mental focus and increase energy levels. Clearer thinking promotes a more productive and effective workout. Coffee is also shown to reduce exercise-induced muscle pain. Coffee also contains powerful antioxidants shown to reduce chronic disease and illness. Studies have shown it helps individuals suffering from Parkinson's disease and to reduce the incidence of gallstones.

 Superfoods play an important part in achieving and maintaining a healthy body. Nutritionists may vary in their lists of which foods are best but agree they're all essential. Eating a wide variety of superfoods daily will satisfy nutrient requirements for optimal body functioning.

Start with the following top superfoods for improved health and fitness:

  • Oats (high in fibre, improved digestion, heart health) 
  • Blueberries (antioxidants, reduces inflammation, cancer-fighting) 
  • Apples (antioxidants, reduces inflammation, weight loss) 
  • Green tea (antioxidants, increases metabolism, weight loss) 
  • Flaxseed (essential fatty acids, increases metabolism, reduces inflammation) 
  • Broccoli (antioxidants, cancer-fighting, detox) 
  • Yogurt (calcium, probiotic, improved digestion, bone health) 
  • Olive oil (monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)/heart health) 
  • Beans (high in fibre, antioxidants, improved brain function) 
  • Cinnamon (antioxidants, detox, healing spice)

  Exercises You Can Do When You're Sick

 You'll more than likely get a few dirty looks if you're the one sneezing, sniffling, and coughing at the gym. While your commitment to your exercise routine is admirable, and we understand that you want to get your cardio and strength training in, there are a few general guidelines on exercising when you're sick. If you suspect you may have a stomach bug or you're running a fever, though, it's better to rest up. If you're not feeling horrendous and are still determined to hit the gym, we have a few exercises you can perform. Try these moves out the next time you're feeling a bit under the weather.


If running or cardio is typically on the roster for your daily exercise routine, consider lowering the intensity to a walk. Walking is particularly great for clearing your sinuses, as you take deeper breaths when you walk, and this helps open up your nasal passages. If walking still feels too mundane for you cardio-hungry gym goers, then jogging is still fine as long as you scale the intensity back a bit. Jogging will help decongest you, so it can actually be beneficial if you have a cold. If you're feeling nauseous or vomiting, however, definitely hold off.

 Using a recumbent bike

Getting to your spin class may be impossible when you're feeling crummy, but that doesn't mean you have to give up biking altogether. A recumbent bike, which is a stationary bike that sits lower to the ground, is a good option. Active explains the recumbent bike offers more support to your lower back due to the way you are seated, and because your legs are out in front of you, there's a lot less stress on your knees and ankles. While the recumbent bike may seem easier to use than a traditional upright bike or other cardio machine, it offers you that good cardio workout you're looking for without the super high intensity.

Water Aerobics

While swimming laps and getting a tough, total-body workout in the pool may be your preferred method of exercise, you should slow down when you're sick. Medical Daily explains water aerobics are easy on the joints, can still increase your muscular strength and endurance, and won't have you huffing and puffing the same way swimming laps would. The gentler speed of water aerobics is ideal if you're suffering from nasal congestion and having trouble regulating your breathing. The moisture in the air is also helpful for your nasal passages. Save your tough workouts for when you're in optimal health, and try out this easier aerobic exercise to keep your body moving when you're not feeling your best.

Pilates Exercises

Depending on what your body is telling you, will depend on how much you should do. Generally the first day or two I really do nothing other than some easy spinal movements, flexion, extension, side flexion & rotation. All done seated and slowly. I also like 'Legs up the Wall' pose as it is just generally good for so many things. Then around day 3-4 I start with 20 minuets of a mixture of yoga and Pilates focusing on full spinal and joint mobility and lots of chest/heart openers, like Up Dog Pose. I find that helps keep my chest from getting congested.

I also find a little bit of getting upside down helps clear the airways and unblock my sinuses. Nothing to heavy unless you're really feeling up for headstands (I find they make me dizzy when I am sick) but gentle a Downward dog pose works well for me. Very slowly I increase my movement adding in a little core work but nothing too strenuous until I really feel better.The most important thing is to listen to your body and do what feels right for you!

I see illness as my bodies way of asking me to slow down and take a break... and don't worry in a weeks time those glutes & thighs won't know what has hit them!

Quote of the Month - "Take care of your body. Its the only place you have to live 

by Jim Rohn

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