Diet & Nutrition:
This is one of the most complicated and misunderstood aspects to training and daily life. There is always some new method in the trend for “diets”. The amount of information on this subject alone is staggering. To make matters worse, it usually ends up making things more confusing.
I like to keep my eating habits simple and easy to remember. The basic ideas I follow are from my Grandmaster, O'Sensei Richard Kim: eat a large variety of foods. If 70% of what you eat is fruit and vegetables, the rest of your diet will fall in line accordingly. While not always possible, try to eat as many fresh organic foods whenever you can. Meat is fine, just be sure to source it from reliable places that raise healthy animals accordingly.
Lastly, eat foods that make you feel good. For example, pork does not suit me well. I prefer fish, such as salmon. I feel better after I eat it, and it gives me more energy. Other people may not eat meat at all. I have met several vegetarians that like the taste of meat, but they stopped eating it because of digestive issues. Intrinsically, you know what is best for you. While it is important to look at numbers on a nutritional scale, it is better to listen to your body overall.
In the information era of so many "good" and "bad" foods switching around with each new study, I just do my best to avoid my personal "Big 5" to keep it simple. In general, these are ingredients and other chemicals that should be avoided:
1) High Fructose Corn Syrup. This stuff is bad news, period. It is in everything, ranging from bread, soda pop, energy bars, and condiments. Basically in lay terms, you body recognizes it as sugar at first. It then gets mistakenly converted and stored in you cells as ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). When you put a demand on your body, it combines oxygen molecules with ATP, which in turn releases energy. The problem is this synthesized sugar can’t be processed with oxygen at the time of demand. You body can’t identify it. It then gets stored as a toxin, which is slowly removed by the lymphatic system. This process is much slower than your metabolism. Once there is an over abundance of this Corn Syrup in your system, it is easy to see how the body begins running an energy deficit, and is filled with a toxic and unusable energy source.
2) Hydrogenated Oils of any kind. Whether partial or full, these harmful oils are designed to have a shelf life over many years. It is frequently found in peanut butter, snack bars, and different kinds of chocolate candies. The molecularly modified oils quickly find their way into your cardiac muscles, where it can take the body up to two years to purge them. No need to elaborate any further on this nasty stuff.
3) Refined Sugar in excess. Honey is a much better alternative. Both sweeteners contain glucose and fructose. However, for sugar, in the process of manufacturing, the organic acids, protein, nitrogen elements, enzymes and vitamins in the sugar cane are destroyed, whereas honey, a natural sweetener, subjects only to minimal heating. Also, honey has certain beneficial antioxidant and antimicrobial properties which are not present in table sugar.
4) GMOs. In 30 other countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production of GMOs, because they are not considered proven safe. In the U.S. on the other hand, the FDA approved commercial production of GMOs based on studies conducted by the companies who created them and profit from their sale. Refuse to be a guinea pig for corporations that are concerned only with profits and maximum yield.
5) Any kind of pesticide. These contain harmful hormone disruptors that destroy the chemical controllers of the body. Often they lead to reproductive harm, birth defects, and cancer.
With this information in hand, keep in mind that eating perfectly all the time isn't going to happen. Avoid becoming too extreme, because that in itself can lead to other problems. It is important to enjoy your food as much as possible. If done thoughtfully, you can indeed "have your cake and eat it too!" I hope you have found this series educational and informative. Until then be well, and enjoy your training!