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Nutrition

Did you know that digestion takes 80% of your energy?

Do you sometimes feel down after a meal? Well, it certainly tasted great yet leaves you with a bitter-sweet aftermath, which is called “energy drop”. Why and how does this phenomenon occur? And how can you prevent it going forward? Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.

Your energy balance sheet

Everything in the universe consists of energy. It’s ever expanding since the big-bang. At square one, there was infinite density and temperature. Now, our climate on planet earth is decent and matter is well spread.

All energy is still there. Neither new one can be created nor can it be destroyed. It can only be transformed. Food is energy provided by plants or – worst case – animals. Hence, eating fuels your body with energy. Energy, it needs to function – physically and mentally. There’s one caveat though. The cheer act of digestion requires energy. Your jaws need to chew and produces saliva. Your stomach generates gastric acid. Your intestines host microbes, who dehydrate food and soak out the nutrients.

In order to maximize the plus side of your energy balance sheet, you want to minimize the energy investment in digestion whilst maximizing the nutritional value of the food you consume. This way, you’ve a net surplus of energy through eating and tackle your day effectively.

Be food-smart

I used to eat a lot of carbs, dairy products and processed sugar. Afterwards, I felt into the valley of low energy. It took me many years to find my ideal diet and way of consuming food. Whilst there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all, there’re universal dietary rules you want to bear in mind:

  1. Focus on quality. When it comes to food, you want to buy local and seasonal plant based food. Especially leafy greens combined with fruit are high in energy. Don’t confuse energy with calories though. High energy food can be easily converted by your body without friction or loss. High caloric food is dense in terms of its nutritional value, yet isn’t necessarily easy to digest – think red meat. Strive to become a good processor of food rather than eating tons of stuff. It will only slag your digestive track and thus weaken your digestive power.
  2. Follow the sun. As human beings, we’re aligned to the natural rhythms of our planet. So is your digestive power. It is strongest when the sun in in zenith, i.e. at noon. Hence, you want to have a mid-size meal in the morning, a rather large one at noon and at most a snack in the evening.
  3. Purify your food. Next to what you’re eating in which amounts at which time of the day, the way you consume food is paramount. A year ago, I discovered the advantages of a good blender. If you purify your food with it, your whole digestive track needs to invest significantly less energy to convert the food and extract the nutrients. So, get a good blender and make tasty and healthy green smoothies every day!

Are fruit or vegetables healthier?

One of the most important questions for nutritionists. Let’s put the bottom line upfront: Both contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. Yet there’re subtle differences, which justify a deep dive the ExperienceZone way.

Fruit have one downside

Children usually prefer fruit over veggies. Why’s that? Speaking constitution types, children have a lot of Kapha (that’s one of the three Ayuverda Dosha’s, which stands for people who tend to eat high-caloric food and thus run the risk so become overweighted if they neither grow more work out). With this trick, nature takes care that our offspring passes its rites of passage physically. Are fruit really high-calorie food? It depends. A banana contain 100 calories, whilst fruit high in fluid, such as watermelon, are usually low in calories. Hence, food density plays a role. Also, the type of calories. Extra virgin olive oil contains 800 calories per 100 gram, yet doesn’t make you fat as it gets directly metabolized by your body. In contrast, saturated animal based fat, such as butter, in combination with carbs,  such as wheat, refuels your fat cells.

Before you head spins and eventually explodes, let me come full circle here. Fruit contain sugar – next to antioxidants, fiber and phytochemical. The two sugar types are called glucose and fructose. These sweeteners make children crave for fruit and leave the veggies on their plates. Although they give your body energy straightaway, too much fructose can harm your digestive functions. Glucose is your little helper. It supports to metabolize fructose. Most fruit contain both forms of sugar. Look for those, which contain at least a 1:1 relation between glucose and fructose, such as dried figs and dates. By the way: Drying food preserves it, yet also increases its sugar proportion. Also, bananas contain a healthy ratio between glucose and fructose. That’s the reason why many claim them to be the primal human food next to coconuts.

Find the right mix!

Both groups are healthy. They belong to the foundation of our food pyramid and thus need to make up the largest part of our daily intake. In which ratio, at which times and in which quantities?

  1. Eat more veggies: You can smartly mix fruit with vegetables – in a salad or a blender. Latter is particularly recommendable as it purifies your food, so that your body doesn’t need to invest any energy in digestion but can metabolize the nutritions straightaway. Since veggies are by nature less sweet than fruit, you can mix them with sweet fruit in a 3:2 relation. In general, you want to eat bitter, sour and hot food rather than sweet one. Too much sweet stuff creates a fertile soil for parasites of all kinds.
  2. Eat them raw: Once you heat your food over 43 degree Celsius or 118 degree Fahrenheit, vitamins, minerals as well as the precious enzymes, which you need to digest the food, disappear. Therefore, eat fruit and vegetables raw. The closer our diet to nature, the healthier we’re, the better we look and the longer we live.
  3. Eat fruit first: Different types of food take different time to get digested. Fruit pass your intestines very fast. They’re speed racers. If you eat your fruit salad after a heavy meal, than they feel insulted and pay you back. How? They rotten and cause bowel gases and other digestive problems.

Why can you eat more if you work out regularly?

Eating equals life-quality. Especially if the meal is well prepared. Many people rather listen to their palate than to their entire system. This often results in gluttony. I used to eat 4-5 times a day. My excuse: “Well, these are only small meals. Plus I’m training like a beast.” Was I right or wrong?

What happens in your body during physical exercises?

Motion requires energy. One source is nutrition. Focus on the appropriate food quantity at the right mealtime. Especially if you move every day. In case you want to get in shape through strength training, work every day different muscle groups. Also, you want to consider days off every now and then. Why’s that? If you exert muscles, you put them under stress. This causes growth since your body “thinks” it need to lift more weight or more often than before. Muscles can only increase their volume during relaxation. That’s why tension and relief or sports and relaxation always need to be well balanced. During your work-out your body transforms food in energy and thereafter it builds muscles. The higher your body’s muscle percentage in relation to fat, the higher your metabolic rate. The harder you train, the bigger the gain an the more your can eat. Yet burning fat and building muscles is a science and dependent on non-dietary factors too, such as the intensity of your training and regeneration. So you want to push your physical limits carefully. I found out that strength, balance, flexibility and endurance components in a very special relation work for me best.

Find the right training mix!

My daily program contains calisthenics, yoga and cross-fit elements. I usually train 10-20 minutes and always different muscle groups in alternating sequences. Slow-motion-style, which means maximizing the strain time. Though I do incorporate high-intensity pieces, such as burpees. What do you want to consider?

  1. Define your training goals. Do you want to become a lean leopard or a bulky beast? Your diet, exercises, weight, speed as well as number of sets and repetition is a function of your personal objectives. I recommend you to find a balance rather than going into the extremes. Believe me: I’ve been at both ends.
  2. Create a training plan. Your program needs to be divers and makes you move your boundaries. Humans are habitual beings. Yet if we don’t vary, we get bored. If we don’t push ourselves mentally, physical adaption sets in. The resulting plateau will dissatisfy you and lower your motivation.
  3. Take action and follow through. No matter how heavy you are. No matter if and which disease you’ve. No matter how busy you think you are. No excuses. Start where you’re, use what you’ve and do what you can. It takes 3 months or 100 days to cultivate a new routine. The earlier you begin to work out, the easier it is. The more you delay, the harder it is. Those are the ExperienceZone truisms we live by every day.

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