Friday, June 16, 2006

A Farmer's Diet

A month ago, when I started working at the farm, I assumed that by now, I would be used to the 12 mile bike ride and the 4 hours of physical labor every morning. I thought my body would go through a rough time, need a period of adjustment, and finally emerge in fine form and full of energy. It has not happened. Instead I feel increasingly exhausted with each passing day, and many of us on the farm have begun to talk about what we should be eating to maintain our energy.

I am fortunate compared to others, some of whom are maintaining 20-40 hrs of additional work per week in order to cover their expenses. I don't know how they do it. I have only enough energy for an occasional trip to the grocery store or laundromat, cooking breakfast and dinner, reading a little bit or watching a movie in the evenings.

I need to pay more attention to what I eat and drink and have started to do a little research about nutrition. Next I will try some experiments to see what works and what doesn't. According to the following article, and contrary to what some of us were thinking, protein is not as essential for increasing energy as carbs and lots of water... I certainly eat enough carbs, but I haven't been drinking nearly enough...and only when I feel thirsty. Being under an intense sun most days, this is possibly one cause of my exhaustion.

Water is the ultimate ergogenic aid—but because the body has a poor thirst mechanism, you must drink before you feel thirsty. Once you are thirsty you are already slightly dehydrated, and your performance will be diminished.

To stay well hydrated, you need to drink about a quart of caffeine-free, nonalcoholic fluids for every 1,000 calories of food you eat, assuming you maintain your weight. To ensure that you are well hydrated before you exercise, drink 2 cups of water or sports drink 2 hours beforehand. To avoid dehydration during exercise, begin drinking early and at regular intervals. For exercise lasting an hour or less, 4 to 6 ounces of cool water every 15 to 20 minutes provides optimal fluid replacement.

During exercise that lasts longer than 60 minutes, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverages containing 5% to 8% carbohydrate should be drunk at the same rate to replace fluid and spare muscle glycogen. Also, consuming sports drinks during intense activities such as soccer or basketball may enhance performance. After exercise, replace every pound lost during exercise with at least 2 cups of fluid.

For the whole article see:
Eating for Peak Performance
by Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD

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