Words: Hannele Steyn
Still in the firm grip of winter's icy tentacles, its easy to experience the winter blues when summer seems so far away. But don't let the cold get you down because feeling great is just a few easy steps away.
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In an earlier article, I spoke about how to overcome the cold, dark mornings and evenings when you are training. Now that you've got your training in hand, let's take a look at what to eat and drink that will make you feel like a million bucks.
It is essential to keep our immune system strong, especially in winter. Unless you eat 100% organic, you are going to battle to get the necessary nutrients from the food on the shelves. Therefore, you need to take a good multivitamin. When choosing a mulitvitamin, the important thing to check on the label is that the tablets are coated with its own anti-oxidant, otherwise every time you open the bottle, the pills will oxidise and soon you will be swallowing rust. Your multivitamin must also contain the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals because they all work in synergy and one needs the other to be fully absorbed.
Food wise, try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season. Currently in season are citrus fruits, apples and guavas, which are packed with vitamins and goodness.
A good omega-3 is very important, as it plays a role in all your cell functions. Don’t go for the cheap ones beacuse the process to extract a pure (mercury-free) omega-3 oil with its molecules in the correct ratio is not a cheap process.
Food wise, avocados are full of essential fats and seasonal in winter. Fortunately, nuts are full of essential fats and in season all year round.
Another important supplement is CoQ10 (Co Enzyme Q10), as it plays a part in the mitochondria of all our cells and is literally 'heart food'. It also fulfills an important role in the manufacturing of ATP (energy) in our bodies. CoQ10 gets destroyed by statin drugs and also deteriorates with age. Look for the natural form of CoQ10, namely Obequinol and not the chemical form, Obequinine.
If you hate taking any pills, then try some natural goodness, like Barley Green, as a daily supplement.
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Keep your meals balanced with:
• Enough protein - Work on 1,5 to 2 g of protein per kg body weight, per day. And remember that a 200 g piece of steak does not contain 200 g of protein, only about 35 g.
• Carbs - Stick to low GI carbs, as they will give you a much better sustained energy level.
• Essential fats - You will find all the good fats in fatty fish, nuts, avos, grape seed oil, hemp oil and chia seeds, to name a few.
Eat lots of nutritious soup, and make it yourself. Take organic beef or chicken and boil with some leeks until the water is reduced, add some Marmite and yoghurt and caramelise. Then add some water and loads of your favourite veggies. Let it cook until done, then add some more water and bring back to the boil. Eat as is or blend it for a smoother texture.
Stay away from processed foods, which are full of trans fats that clog your arteries and will lead to unnessesary weight gain. Another no-no is sugary food, as it spikes your insulin levels and creates absolute chaos in your body. Too much every day will eventually lead to diabetes. Also be very careful of having too many energy drinks and energy bars.
Keep up your water intake. As this is more difficult in winter, rather drink 500 ml warm water with lemon juice in the morning upon wakening and again before you go to sleep. By doing this, you will have already consumed one litre of the two litres you should drink each day. In addition to being easier to drink, the added benefit here is that warm water flushes the kidneys and liver while cold water only flushes your kidneys. FYI: it's brilliant for a hangover as well.
With reduced daylight hours in winter, most of your training might be indoors. Use this time to do shorter, harder training sessions. In place of those nice, long rides in summer, do some important cross-training (like weights, swimming, yoga, plyometrics, CrossFit, etc.). Always remember to have a good stretch before and after.
Every now and again, spoil yourself with a good massage. If you have never tried meditation, give it a go, it will do wonders - and you don’t need to go out in the cold and dark to do it, but in the comfort of your own home.
With all the above, how can you not feel great and on top of the world?