Food

Eat Better! You Can’t Out-Exercise Your Bad Diet.

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You can’t out-exercise your diet. Some will even go as far as to say it is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I find the gap of importance between the two to be smaller than that, but you certainly cannot undermine the importance of nutrition if you want your body to make changes. It goes beyond wanting to look better in your breeches. As equestrian athletes, we must fuel our bodies so that we can train as hard as our horses.

If you are trying to lose weight, on the most basic level, the amount of energy expended through exercise and daily functions must be higher than the calories consumed. However, what you eat very well may be more of an issue than how much you are eating. Your body needs protein, carbs and healthy fats to perform. It is the empty calories from added sugars and solid fats that need to be regulated so that you can fill yourself with more nutritious options instead.

For me, the best way to become more informed while making food decisions is an app called Fooducate. It has helped me to be accountable for my choices, easily choose better options, see what fuel my body is missing and customize a plan for my personal goals.

At first, it is a major pain to plug in everything you eat. Fooducate makes it as easy as possible with a barcode scanner and a well-designed search tool. The problem is getting yourself into the habit of tracking everything you consume – not just your major meals. A lot of my terrible snacking habits were ended because I didn’t want to have to enter that I had 3 handfuls of chips, 2 cookies, a spoonful of icing and a mouthful of whipped cream. Yes, it used to be that bad… but it is important to be honest with yourself about your habits.

2-health-tracker

Once you enter an item, Fooducate will grade the food, tell you why it was a good option or why you may want to reconsider, provide healthier alternatives, and list the nutritional facts and ingredients. By regularly exploring the alternatives, I was able to make small changes to my grocery shopping list that made for healthier meals all week long.

alternatives

Towards the end of my day, I will look at how well I did eating intuitively throughout the day. I will try to make my dinner and late night snack cover the rest of my caloric needs, while also maintaining the right protein to carb to fat ratio for my body. Fooducate will show a daily summary with calories consumed out your set budget, average food grade, percent of processed foods, percent and grams of each macro, sugars, fiber and more! I did choose to upgrade to the paid version, but the free app also has plenty of great information to start making better plans for your health. As you gather some long term data, Fooducate will also show your progress in weight or calorie management.

daily summary

It’s never too late to start treating your body better. You will feel better and perform better, both in and out of the saddle. Stay tuned for future articles about setting goals and determining the macros and caloric values that are right for your body’s needs.

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Laura Killian

Grand Prix dressage rider who has earned her USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medals. She operates her business, Laura Ashey Dressage, in Wellington Florida year-round. In addition to riding, Laura enjoys staying active lifting weights, running, training judo and jiu-jitsu, dancing, twirling baton and trying new and adventurous outdoor activities.

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