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“Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
– Proverbs 15:22

Once people find out that I serve in the FCA Health and Fitness Ministry, I get bombarded with questions about everything from food to fitness equipment, exercising to eating right, calories to carbohydrates. If I am eating out, people watch what I eat and ask me if it is OK to order certain entrees. And frankly, I love it! It gives me countless opportunities to help cut through the confusion and restore some basic truths about how to take care of our bodies the way God intends.

So, this month’s column is all about questions and answers. I hope you will find answers to some of your questions and that you will take action in your pursuit of better health.

Q: Should I eat before or after I exercise?

A: It depends. If you exercise first-thing in the morning, you should probably grab a small snack or piece of fruit and water before you train because your blood sugar levels will typically be low. A small amount of food will give you enough energy to get the most out of your workout. However, you should always eat within 30 minutes after a workout and take in both protein, which promotes growth of lean muscle, and carbohydrates, which replace depleted glycogen stores in the muscles.

Q: What is more important, strength or cardiovascular training?

A: The simple answer is both! You need both for optimal health. The great news is that you can combine the two activities and get great benefits. When strength training, move quickly from set to set to keep your heart rate elevated. When walking, use hand weights and take small breaks for body-weight squats and lunges.

Q: What are the top five things I can do nutritionally to control my weight?

A: #1: Eliminate late-night eating. Late-night snacking can add unwanted calories that end up getting stored as fat.
     #2: Reduce sugar intake. Eating refined sugars, sweets, white breads and sodas add empty calories that trigger a significant insulin response and signal your body to store those calories as fat. They also make us feel hungry which often results in further over-eating.
     #3: Eat a healthy breakfast. This refuels your body, gives you consistent energy throughout the morning and jumpstarts your metabolism.
     #4: Eat every three hours. Eating frequent, small meals and snacks keeps your metabolism rolling. Big meals slow metabolism, and the excess calories are often stored as fat.
     #5: Eat raw fruits and vegetables. God gave us these for optimal health. They are rich in antioxidants and other life-giving nutrients and make us feel full and, thus, eat less.

Q: Are all calories created equal?

A: There is a popular misconception that it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you burn as many calories as you consume. While losing weight does depend on burning more calories than you eat, not all calories bring the same nutritional value or have the same effect on your health. Real health is about more than what the scale says. God created you to need a broad spectrum of nutrition for energy, healing, performance, mental clarity and emotional stability.

Q: What are three foods I should never (or almost never) eat?

A: This list is going to hit hard, but here goes…

1) Doughnuts: They are fried, loaded with sugar and white flour and have tons of transfats. They are virtually the worst way to start your day. They spike your blood sugar and make you hungry again within an hour.

2) Bacon and Processed Meats: As a recovering bacon addict, this is tough. Bacon is probably the worst meat you can eat. It comes from pigs, which are scavengers that sleep 20 hours a day, thus having a high fat content. Plus, a pig’s digestive system doesn’t eliminate toxins from its flesh the way a cow’s does.

3) French Fries: If you really want to gain weight and clog your arteries, by all means, chow down.

I realize that we are just scratching the surface with this Q&A session, but if you take this advice and implement even a couple of these suggestions, you will begin to see great heath benefits. And, as the Proverb says, your plans will succeed when you follow God’s wise counsel to honor Him with your body!

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Medical Disclaimer: All information in his article is of a general nature and is furnished for your knowledge and understanding only. This information is not to be taken as medical or other health advice pertaining to your specific health and medical condition. Always consult a physician or health professional before beginning any exercise or nutrition program.

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