Nutrition to fuel your fitness needs

AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezPhil Schiller

AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezPhil Schiller

There’s a bargain that I like to strike with my patients: I commit to doing my best work as an orthopedic surgeon and, in turn, they commit to dedicating themselves fully to their own recovery.

To help people stick to their end of the bargain, I encourage them to see themselves not as a patient in rehab, but as an athlete in training. What any athlete would do is to focus on their fitness and strength, completing many hours of training and physical therapy. They would also optimize their diet.

Whether you are a competitive athlete, a weekend warrior or a dedicated daily exerciser (injured or fully fit), the cornerstone to improved performance and a speedy recovery is a good diet. With the StoneFit diet, we offer our patients some clear guidelines to getting the best nutrition.

With so many contradictory dietary recommendations and nutrition trends, many of them based on inaccurate information gained from flawed food diary surveys, it’s difficult to know what to eat. In contrast, the StoneFit diet is simple: focus on lean protein, fruits and vegetables. Cut back on carbohydrates, sharply reduce processed foods and avoid all sugary drinks. Combine this with a tall glass of water each hour and an hour of exercise a day. This will reduce weight, build muscle and improve health.

Typical advice on a balanced diet says that it generally consists of 55 to 65 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 15 percent from proteins, and less than 30% from fats. The StoneFit diet doesn’t talk in percentages since our patients don’t. We advise shifting to a higher intake of lean protein. If you’re hungry, reach for protein.

When you’re eating a meal, eat the full range of choices. Proteins: Healthy sources of proteins are beans, legumes, fish, and meat (grass-fed, organic).

Carbohydrates: These need to contain dietary fiber without added sugars. The best forms are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Unsaturated fats: Healthy fats come from nuts, fish and vegetables oils.

Many people are chronically dehydrated, which has negative effects on exercise performance and all organs of the body. All muscles and cells, especially brain cells, work better when hydrated.

Traditional recommendation for water intake is one-half your body weight in ounces daily with an additional 8 ounces per 15 to 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. However, the StoneFit Diet recommends a tall glass of water every hour. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water. Thirst is not always an adequate sign of dehydration.

In terms of vitamin and mineral supplements, typical recommendations tend to encourage people to take more supplements than they need, vitamins they already get enough of in their diets. In general, you shouldn’t take supplements the body doesn’t need. The StoneFit Diet recommends only calcium and vitamin D for women. These are the two most important nutrients for bone health.

When we don’t get enough calcium for our body’s needs, it is taken from our bones. We believe that almost all women are deficient in calcium and vitamin D, and they start rapidly losing bone mineral density after age 30.

Making the right nutrition choices is fundamental to your health and recovery. The better you eat and the fitter you become, the better your body will get at telling you what it needs. It’s a virtuous circle, and one that yields results.

Nutrition made easy

Aim for seven to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily (1 serving = 1 cup)

Increase your protein

Reduce carbohydrates

Avoid sugary drinks

Eat foods that come from nature and avoid processed foods

Drink a tall glass of water per hour

Women should take vitamin D and calcium

Dr. Kevin R. Stone is an orthopedic surgeon at The Stone Clinic and chairman of the Stone Research Foundation in San Francisco. He pioneers advanced orthopedic surgical and rehabilitation techniques to repair, regenerate and replace damaged cartilage and ligaments. For more info, visit www.stoneclinic.com.FeaturesKevin R. Stone

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