By Nina Anderson, C.N.E.



 Proper fitness training should include knowledge about the body, why it works and what happens when those birthdays accumulate. Anyone who skis, sails, plays tennis, jogs, is a golfer or participates in any sport, finds that as they age, their body lets them know, with stiffness, less stamina and less mobility. To compensate they resort to consuming large amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, electrolyte drinks and even candy bars. When you exercise, most of the nutrients in these foods are used up in short order and need constant replacement. What is more alarming, is that the body may not be absorbing or utilizing these foods because they lack proper enzymes.

 In order to gain energy from food, it must be digested (broken down into smaller particles), absorbed (taken from the intestines into the blood) and utilized (taken from the blood into the cells). Stomach acid is essential for efficient nutrient absorption and as people age, they lose the ability to secrete the necessary levels of hydrochloric acid required for proper digestion. 

At forty, people secrete only sixty-five percent of the normal levels of digestive enzymes, and at sixty-five it reduces to fifteen percent. When you cook or process foods in excess of 188 degrees F, you kill enzymes in that food resulting in your pancreas having to produce enzymes for digestion. This uses up your body’s already diminished stores of enzymes and makes you susceptible to aging and the associated diminished athletic superiority.

 Since people are eating more and more cooked or processed meals, they are not getting the nutrients as nature provides in raw foods. The solution is to supplement your diet with plant-based enzymes when you eat anything that is not raw. Enzymes are essential for energy conservation because the athlete who takes supplemental enzymes will be absorbing more nutrients from the food, and  therefore needs less food to provide an equivalent amount of energy. This allows them to work out more often and more effectively if their body is not digesting quantities of food. Many doctors have even administered supplemental enzymes for inflammations and sports injuries. 

The snacks, beverages and meals we choose for performance should be based on common factors for all people. Proteins are needed to improve stamina. Since protein plays an essential role in the production of hormones and new muscle tissue, it is important to maintain adequate stores. 

When exercising, our bodies call upon muscle tissue to provide adequate control, and stamina. Therefore, a protein meal should be included early in the day. Prior to exercising over a long period of time, such as walking or jogging, a long-term energy carbohydrate food would give a boost to get you going. Snacks on the course such as apples, citrus, grapes, or popcorn release energy slowly creating long-term stamina. Any short-term fast-release energy foods, such as bananas, raisins, candy, or cookies, eaten when a quick burst of energy is needed, should be followed by a long-term carbohydrate food within one half-hour to prevent a blood sugar low, and resultant fatigue. 

Sustaining adequate carbohydrate levels by eating a slow-release food during long-term exercise regardless of your appetite, will prevent radical blood sugar highs or lows. After your period of exercise, you can choose carbohydrate foods that include fast-release ingredients, which can provide a quicker recovery from stressed muscles. These should be followed by a slow-release carbohydrate before the blood sugar swing starts affecting your ability to stay awake on the drive home.According to Dr. Uma Viswan-athan, “Watching your blood sugar is just as important as watching your score card. If you eat sensibly, you can improve your stamina and concentration.” Eating during long term exercising which includes golf, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, etc., keeps you ahead of the “power curve”. Once your blood sugar drops you may feel tired, experience concentration difficulties and possibly even develop headaches. 

Becoming a necessary addition to our exercise kit, is the ever-present water bottle. Dehydration can affect our ability to think and control our muscles. Electrolyte drinks are popping up everywhere, but beware of those that also contain sugar. These may be beneficial for short term bursts of energy, but for the long-haul needed for prolonged exercise, water with added minerals and little else is the best choice. 

Nina Anderson and Cherie Tripp, co-authors of “Nutritional Leverage for Great Golf”, have compiled a comparison chart of brands for both sports drinks and sports bars, allowing us a quick look at ingredients. Sports energy bars are easy to carry as a snack, but again we must define if they are for quick energy or long-term stamina. Those with sugar, glucose and high fructose corn syrup are best for the last hour of play where you need a kick to avoid fatigue. Bars containing fructose, brown rice syrup or fruit juice as sweeteners are better for long-term energy release and for avoiding the blood-sugar roller coaster. Many of these bars are also loaded with ingredients to enhance memory and improve concentration. Choosing foods and beverages for long-term stamina will provide you with the best chance to reap the health and dietary benefits we all want from exercise. 

An important component of exercise is strength training. For each decade of life, adults lose approximately six pounds of muscle. Muscle strength decreases by about twenty percent by age sixty-five along with a decrease in flexibility. Regular strength training not only  prevents some of this loss, but  increases bone and muscle mass and flexibility. Strength training for women and men over forty is critical to staying active in later years. Bones need to be subjected to stress in order to increase density and generate bone growth.  Lifting weights provides the stress needed to do this while muscles, tendons, and ligaments become stronger. Your sense of balance is improved along with reaction time, both of which help prevent falls. Beginning both a fitness training and nutrition program now can help you look and feel great, plus keep you healthy and strong for years to come! 

Nina Anderson is co-author of “The High Performance Diet” and “Nutritional Leverage for Great Golf”, available at bookstores or through (888) NATURE1.

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