How healthy nutrition increases performance

We all know the phrase: "You are what you eat". What we eat has a significant influence on our health and well-being. But what does a healthy diet actually mean? And what are the benefits of eating a balanced diet? To get a better insight into this topic, we asked dietician Theresa Vierlinger, BSc - who follows the motto "Nutrition is the first medicine".

What is meant by "healthy diet"?

Finding a definition for healthy eating is not easy, as there is no single meaning for it. Moreover, it can be something different for everyone. What is certain, however, is that a healthy diet does not mean going without.

But there are a few basic tips:

  • Eat the rainbow
    • As far as vegetables and fruit are concerned, it makes sense to combine as many different types as possible. This way you get a variety of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
  • Plenty of unsaturated fatty acids
    • Unsaturated fatty acids, especially the omega 3 fatty acids, have numerous positive effects on our cardiovascular system and our brain.
    • Rapeseed oil for cooking, olive oil or linseed oil for salads, nuts and seeds in yoghurt, fatty fish for lunch
  • Moderate saturated fatty acids
    • The saturated fatty acids contained in animal products should be limited, as they can have negative health effects in high quantities
    • Prefer low-fat meat such as turkey, eat sausage products infrequently
  • Long-chain carbohydrates from whole grains
    • In contrast to white flour products, whole grains contain valuable dietary fibres that allow the blood sugar level to rise slowly, make you feel fuller for longer and are good for your digestion.
  • Include calcium-rich dairy products daily
    • Curd cheese, yoghurt and cheese are essential for optimal bone health and should be consumed daily.
  • Secondary plant compounds
    • Pulses such as chickpeas, lentils or tofu are becoming increasingly popular, and not without reason. When prepared correctly, they not only taste great, but also provide us with many important secondary plant compounds that keep us healthy.
  • Choose favourable preparations
    • Instead of deep-frying, use preparation methods such as frying with little oil, steaming or simmering. Pro tip: Use a well coated pan that requires little oil and at the same time does not burn anything.

If you follow these simple but useful tips, it is not very difficult to stick to a healthy diet as a beginner.


How to start a healthy diet

The first step towards a healthier and more balanced diet starts in the mind. After all, healthy eating is not a diet that is followed for a few weeks, but a long-term way of eating that you also enjoy. It doesn't make sense to want to put all your new eating habits into practice at once, but in small steps. Thinking about how and what exactly you want to implement plays a role. Step by step, you can try to include more vegetables, eat more whole grains or simply eat more consciously. This already starts with the purchase, up to the implementation of meals. A healthy and balanced diet is a way of life, and you can feel its effects on your own body.


Nutrition influences performance

When the body is adequately supplied with nutrients and minerals, it can adequately manage all bodily functions, which includes performance. A filling, healthy breakfast of oatmeal cooked in milk, with banana, walnuts, flaxseed and nut puree is therefore an efficient start to the day to promote performance. Because eating long-chain carbohydrates in combination with protein and a portion of good fats is recommended. Wholemeal bread with cheese and vegetables or a yoghurt with flaxseed and banana are also very good options.

A breakfast consisting of white bread with butter and jam, for example, is likely to cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, followed by a rapid drop, which can be characterised by a decrease in concentration, ravenous hunger and fatigue.


The secret of the superfood oats

Oats are definitely one of the recommended superfoods. Oat flakes contain a special dietary fibre - beta glucan, which is the key substance in oats. The effects of beta glucan clearly speak for the little flakes.

  • Slow rise in blood sugar -> this prevents cravings due to a rapid drop in blood sugar.
  • Lowering of blood fat values (especially cholesterol)
  • Long saturation due to the complex carbohydrates; in addition, oat flakes are an optimal source of energy during sports.
  • Formation of a viscous consistency in the stomach and small intestine -> it acts like a protective layer for the stomach and can have a soothing effect on stomach pain or reflux
  • Positive influence on the microbiome (totality of all co-inhabitants in the intestine) -> can stimulate the multiplication of bacterial strains that have a positive effect on the intestine
  • Promote the immune system
  • Taste incredibly good: whether in porridge, as overnight oats, in soups, in pastries, in cakes or as oatmeal loaves.

Finally, we asked Ms. Vierlinger a few questions about healthy eating.

Are there certain foods I should eat daily for a healthy lifestyle?

Some nutrients and minerals are essential for the body to perform its daily tasks in the best possible way. To ensure this, the body needs daily vitamins, minerals and trace elements, which are found in large quantities in vegetables and fruit, for example.

It also needs healthy fats, for example to build up hormones or to regulate our heat balance. Unsaturated fatty acids, which are found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and fish, play a particularly important role here.

In addition, the body needs daily protein, which is found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, but also in vegetable sources such as pulses (chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils), tofu or seitan. Protein plays a role not only in muscle building and muscle maintenance, but also in the immune system or in the transport of various substances through the blood.

Carbohydrates have long been discredited, but are nevertheless a very important group of nutrients. In the meantime, we know that carbohydrates neither make you fat nor ill, but are very important for the supply of energy. However, there are different types of carbohydrates where the focus is on complex carbohydrates. These include whole grain products, oats, potatoes and legumes. Complex carbohydrates consist of long chains, which means that the body takes longer to break them down and therefore the blood sugar level rises more slowly, which means that you are able to work harder and feel fuller for longer.

If you try to combine your daily meals with complex carbohydrates, a portion of protein, a healthy source of fat and various vitamins, your body will be sufficiently supplied.


In your opinion, what are 5 tips for getting in the best shape?

  • Eat a varied, balanced and less processed diet.

  • Don't stress yourself out too much and treat yourself to something

  • Do not forbid yourself anything and eat mindfully

  • Drink enough

  • Don't forget to exercise

Is there a quick and easy way to get healthy recipes if I can't think of any myself?

Yes, because luckily there are now countless recipes on the internet and on social media. I also post new recipes and nutritional info weekly on my Instagram and Facebook channel (@dergsundeweg). If you feel like it, feel free to stop by and try out some simple, healthy recipes.


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