Let’s Talk About… FOOD!, baby…

Posted: April 8, 2011 in Articles, Recipes

Per request of my friend Martin (hey-yo!) and to my great pleasure, I present a day of talking about food. *Warning: This is only one of many discussions and articles about food. Food is one of the most controversial topics, especially when it comes to fitness and enhancing performance/results.

Most athletes, specifically endurance athletes, directly link their performance to their diets. It’s that important. In fact, if you’re serious about exercise and losing weight, one of the first and most important things you will find when doing research is that the majority of getting into shape is what and how much you eat. This translates to a simple answer: If you wanna lose weight, you gotta eat a lot of natural, good foods (aka fruits and veggies), decrease your total calories, and amp up your exercise minutes in order to lose weight. Take it from me, who works out a lot and eats pretty much whatever I want, and my weight stays the same. If I were to go hardcore and eat cleaner, I’d prolly be a ripped little machine. Sorry, I’m done. Let’s begin the discussion.

Let’s start with something small, simple, and necessary—do you know the proper portion sizes? Let’s face it, we live in America, which means that everything is supersized. Honestly, what we consider a “small” portion is most likely a normal, what-you-should-be-eating size. How far off are you in your thinking? Check your answers.

Now that we’ve all reviewed that (trust me, I need reminders about portion sizes, too!), let’s talk about foods that are ideal for you as an active person (which we all should be…).

GOOD
I read about 8 Perfect Fitness Foods and some of them surprised me, not gonna lie:

1.       Pineapple and Papaya
2.       Salmon
3.       PB&J or Pasta w/ Meat Sauce
4.       Pork Tenderloin
5.       8oz. Chocolate Milk
6.       Coffee
7.       Green Tea
8.       Cold Water

You have no idea how happy I am to see numbers 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8 on there! Hello, happy tummy. I could pretty much live off those numbers alone.

Peanut butter is a food group for me. I'm okay w/ it, too.

BAD
I’m not stopping though. Because there are some foods and fad diets that you should avoid. Completely. Because they’re stupid.

GOOD
My friends know my as Kelsey. Or the monkey. I often refer to myself as “the monkey” because I could eat an entire bunch of bananas a day. As is, I eat 2-4 a day. Just depends where I am and what I’m doing. Now, this confused some of my friends out at first when we started this weight-loss challenge at work because bananas are known as the most dense and highly caloric of the fruits. True, but like I’ve been trying to explain to anyone I talk food and fitness with, just because it’s higher in calories, doesn’t mean it’s awful for me! A banana is always going to be better than a 10-calorie Jell-o cup.

Proof to back me up—this quote from dailyfitnesstips.com: “If уοu eat bananas regularly уοu wіll find thаt thеу allow уοu tο function аt a higher level fοr a prolonged period. Thіѕ іѕ bесаuѕе thеу contain lots οf potassium, whісh іѕ gοοd fοr ѕlοw-release energy. If уοu еvеr watch Championship tennis matches, уοu wіll see players eating bananas between games. Thіѕ іѕ bесаuѕе over thе course οf a match, a declining energy level саn see a player lose performance аnd bе аt risk frοm injury. Keeping thе energy coming prevents thіѕ.

Bananas are the sh*t! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

More proof (yeah, that’s right, bring it, haters): A professor at CCNY for a physiological psych class told his class about bananas. He said the expression “going bananas” is from the effects of bananas on the brain. Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes. But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

  • Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
  • PMS: Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
  • Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
  • Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
  • Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school (England) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit assist learning by making pupils more alert.
  • Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.
  • Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
  • Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
  • Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
  • Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.  
  • Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.
  • Overweight and pressure at work: Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.
  • Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
  • Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a “cooling” fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.
  • Smoking & Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
  • Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.
  • Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!
  • Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So, maybe it’s time to change that well-known phrase and say, “A banana a day keeps the doctor away!”

Yeah, sorry, super long, but who knew!? I didn’t… but it backed up my love for bananas even more J Happy banana-eating! And stay tuned for more food and diet talk—I’ll talk about what I know about vegetarians, vegans, raw foodies, fruitarians, and more.

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