Guest Blog: Making a Sustainable Nutrition Plan w/ Max Caron

As a former athlete and strength and conditioning coach, I understand that many of us have a Love/Hate relationship with food. When most people think about their diet in relation to their training, the mind goes to 1 of 2 places; what we feel we have to eat to stay healthy and in shape…. and the delicious assortment of goodies that we will eat when we get there!

The reality is that having a plan in place for our diet is just as important as having a plan in place for what we do in the gym. Rather than close our eyes, crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, our time and effort is best served when we put a system in place that supports our lifestyle and fitness goals.

My #1 focus when building a nutritional plan to support my training goals is to make sure the plan is sustainable. When I have a training AND nutrition plan that support each other and function harmoniously with my life, then I can maintain the progress I make when life gets hectic. When I think of sustainable meal choices, I think of 4 elements; delicious, homemade, healthy and simple.

While making a nutritional plan healthy is self-explanatory, an emphasis on taste and flavour is sometimes neglected. When we enjoy what we eat, our motivation and commitment to the plan will stay high. Simply put, it is always harder to stay on the plan when our taste buds aren’t stimulated. 

Homemade choices are another important element because finding healthy choices outside of your own home is hard and often times the choices aren’t as healthy as they seem. It is very tough to get consistent results when we don’t know exactly what is going into our bodies. Furthermore, the healthy choices offered often come at a steep price, which gives us even more reason to save some money and learn to make home cooked meals.

So we need a home cooked meal that is healthy and delicious; the final piece to this is our meals must be simple to be sustainable. For many, the demands from work and our personal lives leaves little time to prepare meals. The best choices are meals that we can prepare in 30-45 mins max. We must anticipate that we won’t always have time to throw together the perfect meal. Meal prep strategies such as making extras, pre-cutting vegetables or making and bottling homemade dressings and marinades are great ways to help shave off some cook time.

I also recommend “mastering” the prep time for 1-3 meals that you love to eat; so when your crunched for time you will know exactly how long it takes to churn out your favourite choice. This can be tough if we try and learn 7 recipes all at once, so stick to just a few favourites. Remember, the whole strategy is to eat homemade, healthy, delicious and simple meals on a consistent basis. This is the key to a sustainable meal plan which will help deliver sustainable results. Happy Cooking!

 

 Max Caron is a strength and conditioning coach at OPEX Calgary Central.

As a previous CFL player for the Calgary Stampeders, Max was a 16th overall draft pick in the 2014 CFL Draft as well as a 1st Team All-Canadian and CIS Football Major Award Winner.

His playing career was cut short due to injury, but his proudest moment was returning to play after suffering 2 ruptured achilles tendons in back-to-back seasons.

With his professional athletic career behind him, he now gets to help others be their best selves and reach their health and fitness goals.

When not coaching, Max enjoys playing sports, training, cooking and spending time with his wife and their two kitties. 

IG:            @max.caron43
Twitter:    @MaxCaron43

Brain Chemistry of a Concussion

Photo by janulla/iStock / Getty Images

The Journal of Neurosurgery published an article in 2010 (Katayama, Becker, Tamura & Hovda) observing the chemical effects post brain trauma. Observing brain injury in rats, the study showed a release of Glutamate, an excitatory (stimulating) neurotransmitter. It is believed that this glutamate release coincides with the increase in potassium concentration immediately after injury. What is the significance of this? More excitation in an area means more demand for energy. This increase energy demand and excitability occurs at the same time as blood flow and oxygen is reduced in your brain. One study published in the American College of Sports Medicine's journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that a decrease in brain blood flow occurs under the stress of exercise for 3-7 days post concussion (Dec 2011).

More simply? Increased demand and decreased supply. If we were discussing material goods, this imbalance would increase the cost of the item. This also occurs in the brain. The cost is high. And this imbalance of supply and demand for oxygen and energy is what leads to the fatigue and "crash" post trauma. Using any part of our brain requires "fuel" and the more complex whether physical or cognitive, the more the brain will be taxed. 

Can we affect demand? Increased cognitive challenge and then increasing physical challenge is adding to the already increased demand of the brain. If the individual has symptoms with increased cognitive challenge however, they should not even consider returning to sport or activity. The brain requires time to heal, but it is also important to add challenge within the means of the individual (without fatigue, brain fog or other symptoms).

Can we affect supply? Concussions are not only a physical issue, they are a chemical issue also. Maintaining a level blood sugar balance is key,  and reducing the highs and lows we can get with refined sugar, or skipping meals will help support the brain during its most vulnerable time. Healthy fats and higher protein will also help to level out sugar levels. Again, this should also improve with time.

Most important to remember is that any injury is a full body experience therefore healing requires attention to the whole body. How we move matters. What we eat matters. What we think matters. The symptoms we experience with any injury are not the problem, they are the effects. Find the cause, you find the "cure".