Filling up with the right fuel

By Pamela Lincoln
Cass County Extension Agent
Family and Consumer Sciences

Now that the Olympics are over, there are several valuable tips we could take from the athletes. First and foremost is to eat healthy and fill your body with the right fuel. I’m sure the athletes ate breakfast, didn’t skip meals nor filled their bodies with a lot of empty calories. To eat healthy you can start by using the My Plate daily food plan which replaces My Pyramid or the food groups you may have learned.
My Plate is your guide to healthy eating. It illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet using a familiar image – a place setting for a meal. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl.
A second tip you can take from the athletes is to be active every day. How much exercise does the average adult need each week? These are the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 ( recommend adults between 18 and 64 years of age should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. That works out to 30 to 60 minutes – five days a week. The guidelines also recommend muscle-strengthening activities for all major muscle groups two days a week.
Pick activities that you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Every bit adds up, and the health benefits increase as you spend more time being active.
The third tip learned from an Olympian is to get an adequate amount of sleep. If you want to train like an Olympian, be prepared to go to bed at the same time as the kids. Athletes aiming for the games need to sleep anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a night, often followed by a 30 to 90 minute siesta, says Terrence Mahon, the head coach for Team Running USA. Resting is crucial because it gives the body a chance to rebuild tissue and muscle that’s been broken down during training.” How much sleep do you need?
According to Dr. Timothy Morsenthaler – “The amount of sleep you need depends on a series of factors such as your age, pregnancy, aging, previous sleep deprivation and sleep quality.” The recommended amount of sleep is infants is 9-10 hours at night plus three or more hours of naps, toddlers – 9-10 hours plus 2-3 hours of naps, school age children – 9-11 hours of sleep and adults – 7-8 hours.
If you follow these three tips: fuel right, be active every day and get plenty of sleep you are on the road to success. Remember the ultimate prize for a healthy lifestyle isn’t a gold medal or money it is something even greater – your health.

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