How The Right Nutrition Can Improve Your Practice

Ensuring your diet is providing your body with optimal nutrition is a sure fire way to improve your yoga and pilates practice, and up your energy levels for loving life. But what does a nutritional diet look like and how exactly does it support our physical practice?

Overwhelming evidence from studies around the world proves that plant foods are your most powerful allies in protecting you against numerous lifestyle-related diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease” states Brooke Longfield, Accredited Practising Dietitian at Healthy Food Guide magazine. When we are in tip-top health our bodies operate to the best of their abilities. The human body diverts energy and nutrients when attempting to combat illnesses, so by sustaining a diet full of plant based foods your body can eliminate disease and actively transfer greater energy and strength into your yoga and pilates routine.

Incorporating various food groups, including a large amount of plant based foods, makes for an abundant, colourful and satisfying diet and provides you with the macronutrients your body needs. Macronutrients refer to the three forms food comes in; carbohydrates, proteins and fats. As a rough guide a healthy diet consist of ½ carbohydrates, ¼  protein and ¼  healthy fats. Dismiss the refined, processed, packaged stuff (that will deplete you of energy and cause health issues) and go for the most natural source you can get our hands on.

Complex carbs are especially beneficial as a snack eaten at least an hour before you step on the mat. The ‘complex’ type of carbs such as multigrain crackers, oatmeal, wholemeal pasta, brown rice, sweet potato, banana, beans and peas have a low glycemic level. This means the energy from these foods will slowly release from your glycogen stores (the main source of fuel for our bodies) to provide sustained, balanced energy throughout the day. This is the type of energy you need to maintain your strength and focus throughout your yoga and pilates sessions.

Eating complex carbs alongside protein after your class will replenish those glycogen stores and help all the cells in your body, especially those in your muscles, repair. This is vital. When engaging in yoga and pilates, your muscle fibres experience microscopic tears as a result of stretching, flexing and undergoing tension. When your body repairs itself, these fibres reform, with the assistance of protein, to become even stronger than before. Supporting your recovery with a snack or meal that has a carb-to-protein ratio of about 4-to-1 will ensure you see major strength and energy gains every time you exercise. Get your protein from almonds, chickpeas, milk, yoghurt, tofu, quinoa, lean meats and eggs. Ensure you consume these nutritious food approximately 30 mins after finishing up your routine for maximal absorption.

“Plant protein is packed with fibre, heart-healthy fats, vitamins and antioxidants” explains Longfield. Fibre, which aids digestion, is an important elements of a yogi or pilates participant’s diet as the organs that make up the digestive systems are constantly activated and engaged. A sluggish, irritated or malfunctioning digestive system can greatly interfere with the ability to perform postures. Also, it can lead to further illness as the body is unable to eliminate waste and cleanse adequately. This is where your plant-based foods come to the rescue, yet again! Fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and wholegrains such as brown rice, barley and quinoa will not only provide you with greater ease and comfort, but will also lower your cholesterol and help you maintaining a healthy weight.

We put in great effort when we step onto the mat, and take pride in our yoga and pilates achievements. Why not apply the same level of intention to your diet. You’ll be rewarded with greater health gains and will see your physical practice soar.