Regular Pilates will, amongst many other benefits, increase muscle mass. If done in conjunction with a healthy eating plan the body will become more toned with a reduction of fat content.
Pilates tones, stretches, strengthens and sculpts the body. Muscle mass will increase and result in a more efficient metabolism which in turn metabolises the use of fat as an energy source, thereby reducing the amount of fat in the body.
Dietary demands however must meet the demands of the individual’s activity levels. For example, a very active person requires enough of the foods that provide energy. These come in the form of carbohydrates which are converted in the body to glycogen which provides energy.
Examples of carbohydrates are potatoes, bread, cereal, rice and pasta. Unrefined carbohydrates which will be brown in colour are healthier. It is important to ensure that the balance of carbohydrates consumed matches the energy requirement.
Proteins consumed aids growth and repair in the body. They are eaten in the form of meat, fish, beans, nuts and dairy products. It is preferable to eat less fatty meat, or cut the fat and skin off before cooking. The healthy cooking options are to bake, boil or grill.
Fat is required by the body but in small amounts. These are consumed in the form of cheese, butter and eggs.
Vitamins and minerals are found in all fruit and vegetables. Leafy green vegetables, cooked in cast iron cookware provide higher contents of iron. Iron assists with the amount of oxygen in the blood stream, and therefore will increase activity performance.
Fibre is found in cereals and keeps our bowels healthy.
Water keeps our vital organs healthy and functioning correctly, as well as keeping the skin in good condition. Dehydration can lead to serious health complications. At least 2 litres of water should be consumed a day.
When selecting fruit avoid fruits high in sugar- these are usually the citrus fruits. Bananas are a very good energy source; however there is a difference in activity performance when eating a hard or soft banana:
A hard banana takes longer to digest and therefore the release of energy is slower and over a longer period of time. So this is suitable for long duration activity. For example: a long walk, run, cycle or swim.
A soft banana is digested and absorbed into the blood stream quickly, therefore supplying energy very quickly and is suitable for short duration activities.
It is recommended that meals should be smaller and more frequent to keep blood sugar levels and metabolism stable:
- Eat 4 to 5 times a day of Smaller portions
- A colourful content on a smaller plate – this ensures good consumption of the different vitamins and minerals and maximum nutrition from each meal.
- Read food labels for nutritional value
- Chew the food well to aid digestion and in turn maximise nutritional absorption
- Snack on healthy food mid – morning and afternoon. For example fruit or raw vegetable sticks
- Plan meals in advance
What must be remembered is that Pilates and resistance training will increase your muscle mass, so therefore you may be heavier on the scales, but your girth measurements and fat mass will decrease.
An example of one day, healthy diet is as follows:
BREAKFAST Bran flakes with low fat milk- one piece of fruit- drink lemon water.
SNACK Glass of water- rye crackers or rye bread with low fat cream cheese.
LUNCH Grilled fish- small jacket potato- 2 vegetables- water.
SNACK Low fat yoghurt or fruit- water
DINNER Grilled chicken salad- low fat health bar- water