Load up on grains to replace nutrients lost in workouts

May 18, 1993|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,Contributing Writer United Feature Syndicate

Athletes and exercisers on low-fat diets should eat lots of whole grains to help them to recover faster from their workouts.

Athletic training is done by stressing and recovering. On one day, you exercise vigorously and your muscle fibers are damaged. On the next day, your muscles feel sore, so you should exercise at a low intensity until the soreness disappears. Every hard workout should be followed by one or more easy ones.

Your muscles require large amounts of oxygen for the chemical reactions that provide energy during exercise. This generates free radicals, which damage muscle cell membranes and cause soreness. Your body responds by using anti-oxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, to help protect muscle cells from damage.

Vitamins A and C are found in fruits and vegetables that are eaten abundantly by most athletes and exercisers on low-fat diets. Vitamin E is found primarily in fatty nuts and vegetable oils, such as soybean, corn, safflower, peanut and olive oils.

A low-fat diet requires that you limit these fats and oils.

Vitamin E is also found in whole grains, such as wheat, buckwheat, brown rice and oats.

Processing grains removes most of their vitamin E. For example, turning wheat to white flour removes up to 70 percent of this essential vitamin.

People on low-fat diets, particularly those who exercise, can get the vitamin E they need by eating lots of whole grains and whole grain cereals.

Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition.

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