The craze for marathons, walkathons and other similar events are climbing up the ladder as the world is becoming more and more health conscious. It is indeed a good sign! There are such events organized for creating awareness for various reasons-right from those such as health awareness, walk for a cause events, marathons that are arranged as charity events and so. The cause might be any but you become the boss of your health by participating in such events. Its usual to see people enrolling themselves into fitness classes for building up their stamina and expanding their activity schedules to improve their body fitness before participating in such events. Mind you, these are not child’s play. While a 10-kilometer or 15-kilomenter run might seem pretty easy there are ones such as the 50-kilometer events that need real stamina and fitness to complete them and achieve success. Do you want to improve your endurance and stamina? There’s a simple way out that’s healthy and wise.
Bringing in the Mediterranean Diet
A small study done by a research team has come up with the valuable information that consuming a Mediterranean diet just four days before an athlete’s endurance exercise performance is sure to show positive results. The Mediterranean diet is one of the few diets that’s got the approval of the majority of health experts for its nutritional benefits.
Mediterranean diet is an umbrella term that includes eating patterns of all those people who live in countries alongside the Mediterranean Sea. A typical Mediterranean diet comprises of high consumption of fruits and veggies, olive oil occupies a central place in the diet, dairy, fish and poultry are consumed in limited quantities, nuts are taken in moderation and there is minimal consumption of red meat, wine, trans and saturated fats and sugar. Find an elaborate list of items that comprise the heart of the Mediterranean diet by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com. Its been shown that people following a Mediterranean diet are less prone to heart attacks than those following a Western diet but this is not 100% due to the diet alone. Lifestyle factors too play a role in defining the overall health of a person. Western diets are usually composed of scarce consumption of fruits, vegetables and minimal-processed oils, increased consumption of trans and saturated fats, dairy, refined sugar, sodium and processed foods such as burgers, French fries and baked goods. Whereas, the foods included in a Mediterranean diet contain antioxidants and nitrates and are said to have high anti-inflammatory properties, all of which help in improving performance of endurance athletes. So, when a person follows a Mediterranean diet, he/she can see a definite change in exercise performance immediately or within a few days. This made a team of researchers start thinking over the possibility of including the nutrients that are a part of the Mediterranean diet in the daily meal plan of individuals and look for changes in performance.
The research team included seven women and four men in their study. All the participants were given the Mediterranean diet for four days and on the fifth day they were recommended to run on the treadmill for 5 kilometers. Nine to sixteen days after this, the participants were fed on a Western diet for another 4 days and were asked to take the treadmill test on the fifth day. The researchers also wanted to test the effect on both these diets on anaerobic exercises such as cycle test or handgrip test. While the study could give us a positive hope with its findings that following a Mediterranean diet helped people run 6% faster on the 5km treadmill test compared to their output after following a Western diet, neither of the diets had any effect on anaerobic exercises.
While we can be happy that following a Mediterranean diet improves performance in as little as four days, we should also be aware of the fact that these improvements are lost soon after switching over to a Western diet. This creates an awareness among all of us reminding that the effects last long only when there is long-term adherence to the dietary pattern. The research team came to the conclusion that a diet that’s good for health is definitely good for exercise performance too.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.