Hitting the gym alone won’t do, to lose weight. You have to learn to combat free radicals through proper diet

People are flocking to the gym like never before to reap the benefits of exercise. However, many of them who are looking to lose weight aren’t eating right. Despite the tall claims made on TV, it is impossible to achieve significant fat loss without reducing carbohydrate consumption or the calorific content of your daily food intake. Consuming enough antioxidants in the form of solid food or food supplements, especially when a person is on such goal-specific diet plans, is a must to ensure optimum health, research shows.

Oxidative damage

The human body reacts with oxygen as we breathe or exercise, a process known as oxidation (which is how the body produces energy). During oxidation, the body releases highly-reactive molecules known as free radicals, which damage proteins, cell membranes and genes. Such ‘oxidative damage’ could lead to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. (In healthy people, the free radicals are mopped by anti-oxidants before they can cause harm). It also affects the body’s natural ageing process.

Pollution, stress and tobacco may also trigger the production of free radicals. Excessive body weight and poor dietary practices intensify their ill-effects, and for a longer duration.

A study conducted at Kaleida Health in Buffalo, New York, and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that meals high in fat and carbohydrate led to damage that was more long-lasting in obese persons.

In the study, eight obese test subjects and 10 subjects of normal body weight were given a big meal. Blood samples were taken before the meal and at intervals of one, two and three hours after the meal. All subjects showed an increase in oxidative stress and inflammation markers two hours after eating. However, after three hours, the levels returned to normal, but only in the subjects whose body weight was normal. Researchers wrote in The Journal of American College of Nutrition that test subjects who merely consumed a protein-rich meal with carbohydrates and fat without enough antioxidants — such as Vitamins C and E — had very low blood antioxidant capacity (AOC).

Higher levels of blood AOC translates into a stronger immune system. In this study, the blood AOC of the subjects dropped!

However, subjects who added blueberries, cherries, grapes or kiwifruit to some of their meals received a boost in AOC levels. However, one should go easy on the fruits as too much fructose may put a brake on the physique changes you desire.

Have an apple or orange or some blueberries, cherries, kiwifruit, strawberries or raspberries along with breakfast and pre-workout meals. Have a small piece of watermelon or some grapes with your post-workout meal. Add asparagus, broccoli, spinach, green beans or zucchini to your dinner.

Nutritionists recommend taking supplements such as vitamin C and E, beta-carotene and Coenzyme Q10 with meals, especially while following a low-carbohydrate diet. Lastly, remember that supplements should be taken under the guidance of a well-informed trainer-cum-nutritionist.

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Keywords: fooddietexercise