We are aware, now more than ever, of how the food we eat plays a significant role in our health, performance, mood and body composition. Many are less conscious, though, of how our behaviors and attitudes around food also impact these outcomes.
Through print, radio and social media, we are continually bombarded with information on how we should and shouldn’t eat, so it’s not surprising that many of us are confused, stressed and anxious about food.
So, what is a ‘healthy’ diet then?
A healthy diet is one in which you are intuitive to your hunger and fullness cues.
You can recognize when you are getting hungry and you feel free to eat. No food rules dictate when you should or should not eat, you listen to your body. A healthy diet means your eating behaviors are flexible. You can travel, try new foods and cuisines and eat out with friends and family. Your diet or food rules do not dictate your social life. A healthy diet provides your body with all its essential nutrients. You eat from all five food groups (fruit, vegetables, grains, lean meat/alternatives and dairy/ alternatives).
The raw food diet is trending right now, likely assisted by celebrities claiming to have followed the ‘raw movement’ at some point. Weight loss, improved health, enhanced energy and sports performance have all been claimed effects of this approach to nutrition.
Raw food enthusiasts claim that cooking strips fruit and vegetables of their vital nutrients, and makes them harder for our bodies to metabolize, so that cooked foods are supposedly less healthy than raw foods. However, current food and nutrition science tells a different story. We now know that the body contains these enzymes, and while some people have food intolerances that may cause them to have trouble metabolizing certain foods, whether they are cooked or not makes little difference.
So, will eating raw make you feel better and perform stronger?
Simple question, not so simple answer. Eating raw might make you feel better, but not necessarily because you’re eating raw – rather because the restrictive nature of the raw food diet may have reduced or eliminated a food that your body was struggling to digest – again, regardless of whether it is cooked or not.
There are a few certain truths about dieting and weight loss we must keep in mind, and consider how these might relate to a raw food diet.
The bottom line is anytime you restrict calories or food groups you will lose weight. Restricting calories and food groups however can impair an individual’s ability to meet their nutritional requirements.
Foregoing essential nutrients leads to diminished performances both for pleasure and competition.
If we can’t train at our full potential, we can never perform there either.
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