Written by Rachel Shuck
Eat Real Food, Be Real Awesome
“Whew, I gained all these extra pounds of fat from eating vegetables!” Ever hear anyone make this declaration? Yeah, me neither. So darn it. Turns out mom was right again. As much as it pains us to admit, she was onto something when she told us “eat your vegetables.”
Our bodies are these crazy and incredible machines that produce billions of new cells daily. In order to create a healthy body, the body needs good, quality, material to rebuild and refuel. If you think about how the nature of training works, our progress and growth don’t come from the workouts, when we are breaking our bodies down, our progress and growth come from the time in between, when the body is rebuilding and repairing to become stronger and faster than it was before. So we get it, we need exercise to improve and to feel good. We have to break down first to get better, but yet, so many of us forget that we also have to give our bodies the nutrients in order to rebuild, feel good, be injury free and have energy. Without the right nutrients, our bodies can only go for so long (and yes, some people can abuse and neglect their bodies more than others w/o immediate repercussions, but why go there?), before something breaks down and keeps us from training. So let’s fuel our bodies right with nutrient dense, real foods, and run and train like the truly crazy runners that we are. Below I’ve put together a super short list (guys there are soooo many benefits, I could literally write a novel) for you to take a look and be reminded of the benefits of eating nutrient dense foods, like green vegetables and fresh fruits. I challenge and encourage you to make them a staple of your daily diet and see what a difference it makes. Bon Appetit!
- Fiber– Fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, etc. are all filled with fiber. Fiber is nature’s awesome life hack. It literally fills up a bunch of space in our stomach, making us feel full, but because we don’t actually digest it, it’s calorie free!! This is how you become a lean, mean, svelte running machine. Not to mention fiber is needed to create peristaltic action so your bowels are healthy and moving like they should be. In fact, on that note, fiber is also amazingly awesome because it pushes out any excess estrogen our bodies have, helping keep our hormones balanced and healthy.
- B-vitamins– B vitamins are these crazy little coenzymes that the body must have throughout the process of glycolysis (converting our food to energy) without them, things don’t progress like they should and we end up feeling low-energy and lethargic. In fact, with extreme B vitamin deficiencies we can develop some pretty serious illnesses.
- Vitamin C– Runners take note!! Vitamin C plays an incredibly crucial role in creating collagen in our body, which is what gives strength to our skin and connective tissue and acts as a glue that keeps cells together, including cartilage, tendons and blood vessels, which if you’re a runner you care about this, because we don’t want end up sidelined with an injury while our friends are having all the fun. We also need vitamin C to absorb the iron from our plant food. Fun fact, do you know we are one of the only mammals that can’t produce our vitamin C?? Making it that much more crucial that we are getting abundant amounts in our diet.
- Vitamin K– You can find this vitamin in your dark, leafy green vegetables and it’s important for blood clotting, but also, it’s important (along with some other vitamins and minerals) for forming strong bones. We want our bone matrix strong and supported, so once again, we can train hard and stay injury free.
- Vitamin A– This vitamin is found in nutrient dense foods like liver, but also in plenty of fruits and vegetables like carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes and is incredibly important for athletes. While it has many roles, one important to us is keeping the lining of our nose and lungs moist. This protects the body from bacteria and viruses, preventing possible infections and helping to keep us healthy and training hard even though we might be exposed to sick family members or co-workers.
- Minerals– Magnesium, potassium, calcium and sulfur, to name just a few, play several crucial roles within the body. These minerals are in part, responsible for maintaining low blood pressure, maintaining fluid balance within our cells, converting our carbs, proteins and fats to energy, and without enough of some specific minerals, like magnesium or potassium, we can experience muscle weakness, muscle cramps, and fatigue to name a few issues. No one wants to suffer through an endurance event experiencing any of these symptoms
- Antioxidants– These are chemicals that protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are substances that play a role in promoting conditions like heart disease and cancer. Plant based foods contain several different known (and probably a ton of unknown forms of antioxidants!!), which just validates even more that eating, whole, nutrient dense foods is the best route to health, wellness and awesome training. 🙂