As a personal trainer, it is my job to help people every day on their health and wellness journeys. That process looks very different for each individual person. Some clients just need someone to show them how to navigate a gym floor because they have never stepped foot in one. Others know their way around a gym, but lack the motivation to get there or follow through with their workouts. Some clients literally just do not feel like going on their journey alone. With all of the different reasons people have for beginning a healthier lifestyle, I have found that one barrier that is almost universal is a lack of understanding of proper nutrition.
Many people make the commitment to show up in the gym five days a week, and they will even begin to live a more active lifestyle in general, but they still will not see the changes they set out to see in their bodies. Few things are more difficult than trying to get rid of that last layer of fat that covers the abs, and more than a few people give up before ever truly seeing their full potential reached. They fail to realize that while working out is both healthy and necessary in one’s journey to better health, but what you eat is in my opinion far more important. No matter how much a person works out, one cannot out train a poor diet. Even if a man has the body of an Adonis, chiseled everywhere, underlying serious health issues can arise as a result of a poor diet.
Recently, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson announced that he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This announcement was a surprise to many, and led to questions like, “how could an elite NFL athlete at 6’1, 219 lbs. with little-to-no body fat on him be diabetic?”
To answer that question, we must understand more about diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is considered a disorder of the metabolism. Our body’s metabolism is responsible for breaking down food to compounds used for energy and growth throughout the human body. Most of the food we eat is converted into glucose that our body uses as its primary energy source. In order for our bodies to use glucose, we have to produce the hormone insulin, which is used to carry glucose into the cells that need energy. Insulin is produced in the body shortly after we eat by the pancreas so the glucose we produce can be carried to the cells. When this occurs, blood glucose levels return to normal. While it is true that elite athletes typically metabolize food more efficiently than the average person due to increased physical output, when they eat too much of the wrong foods, even an elite athlete’s body can break down.
How could Patrick Peterson have developed diabetes? It may be as simple as Peterson ate too much sugary and processed foods repeatedly spiking his blood sugar levels to the point his pancreas could no longer produce enough of the insulin necessary to use glucose in the blood. In his initial statement announcing his recent diagnosis Peterson stated that one of the things he has done to control his diabetes, and reverse the symptoms of the condition was to follow a meal plan given to him by his physicians.
So what do you and Patrick Peterson have in common? You both need to eat a healthy diet if you want to be the healthiest version of yourself. Whether your goal is to have six pack abs, play longer with your kids, or cover NFL wide receivers like Pat Peterson, what you eat matters. Eat what is right for your body, and watch your quality of life skyrocket.
Making Simple Substitutions Can Go a Long Way to Curb Nutritional Deficiencies
White Flour, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Canola/Vegetable Oil, Ground Beef, Traditional Pasta, White rice, Butter, Sweet Tea, Sugary Drinks and juices, Bread Crumbs, Potatoes, Milk, Sour Cream/Mayonnaise, Table Salt, Creamy Salad Dressings.
100% Wheat Flour, Coconut Flour or Almond Flour; Sucanat or Coconut Sugar; Raw Honey, Raw Maple Syrup; Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avacado Oil or Palm Oil; Ground Turkey/Chicken; 100% Stone Ground Whole Wheat Pasta, Spaghetti Squash; Brown Rice or Long Grain Wild Rice; Coconut Oil (cooking)/Applesauce (baking); Unsweetened Herbal Tea; Fruit Infused Water; Rolled Oats; Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Cauliflower (mashed potatoes); Almond or Coconut Milk; Mayonnaise/Sour CreamGreek Yogurt; Sea Salt (moderation is important); Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vinegar, Citrus Juice, Mustard, Herbs