Keys to Fuel By

8 Keys to Fuel By

At Pro-Activity and The Fuel Good Cafe, we believe that the key to a healthy diet is variety built on the foundation of proven standards. Just as a rocket needs the proper fuel to break the earth’s pull, a body needs the right fuel mix – the correct balance between macros (protein, carbs, fat), micros (vitamins & minerals) and taste to get the most out of the system and although there are many ways to look at it, there are 8 key things to look for:

* Natural State:  Food in the Natural State is very simply not processed, synonymous with “whole food”.  When possible, use fresh, locally grown produce to provide original nutrients and nutrient dense foods.  Nutrient deficient foods result in vitamin and mineral deficient people.

* Fiber:  A form of complex carbohydrate, is mainly present in plant leaves, seeds and roots that acts not only to fill you up, but scrub your arteries (and….).  Processing and refining foods removes natural fiber and strips away its cancer & obesity fighting properties along with it.

* Low Glycemic:  Once food hits your mouth, digestion starts.  How fast that food breaks down and impacts your blood sugar is what is known as Glycemic Index.  Choosing low glycemic foods is beneficial for both disease prevention and weight control.  With rare exception (such as in the ultra-endurance activities that some of our clients enjoy), low glycemic food intake is preferable because it is absorbed into the blood stream more slowly.  This means energy is released at a more consistent slow rate over time AND helps the moderate intensity exerciser to burn fat stores as fuel.

* Defender:  Everybody was having fun until those radicals showed up….Every time we take a breath, a process called oxidation occurs which creates molecules called “Free Radicals”. These little molecules are actually beneficial (and necessary) to fight disease and injury, but if too many are formed, they’ll attack healthy cells, speeding up the aging process.  Antioxidants and other “Super Foods” actually help control excess free radials, which in turn also protects us from cancer & heart disease, and strengthens our immune systems.

* Power Up:  Most Americans have a diet high in carbohydrates and therefore low in quality proteins. Protein is one of the essential macronutrient groups, required not only for performance, but also for daily life.  It is broken down into amino acids and is the responsible for tissue repair.  Protein doesn’t just come from animals; a 2/3 cup of dry roasted peanuts has nearly as much protein as 1 (3 oz) serving of chicken breast.  However, not all proteins are created equal.  High Octane foods are those that contain optimal amounts of essential amino acids on their own, or when eaten together.  (Examples: soy, spinach or wheat + lentils, rice + beans, etc).

* Micronutrients:  Vitamins and minerals are critical for the turning carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy.  There are 40 micronutrients required in the human diet.  Regular mineral intake through diet (“popping those vitamins” shouldn’t be your primary source) is important for disease prevention, energy utilization, immune function and wound healing.

* Whole Grains:  Foods that include the whole grain include the germ, the bran and the endosperm(see Natural State).  All of these parts contain vital nutrients like selenium, magnesium and potassium.  Whole grain foods also provide a natural source of fiber – and make you feel fuller longer.

* Balanced Fat:  Fat is not the enemy the world once thought it was.  We now know there are good and bad in every group and fat is no exception.  In order to absorb some key nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, and K) we need fat sources.  The ideal fats are the ones that bring our systems into a balance.  Recent evidence promotes the balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  Whereas the American diet typically has plenty of pro-inflammatory Omega 6, we lack the inflammation suppression of the Omega 3.

We’ve come to understand that when it comes to fueling the human journey, the system will generally tolerate anything for a while; but those who are most committed to finishing their journey strong understand picking the best fuel can be the difference is surviving and thriving.  Fuel choices have incredibly complex influences:  From palate pleasing, to what you “grew-up” on, to disease fighting, fuel choices are influenced by mind, body and soul.