Here is a little bit of info written by the wife of our Athletic Coordinator and strength coach extraordinaire Michelle Sigmon. I have always used this analogy when talking about food and am excited there is something written about it. Most people know what Octane is in relation to gasoline. It’s a grading system that jumps across to foods pretty well.
I have written about it here: http://www.paincaveblog.com/2010/04/top-fuel-dragster-or-dirt-track-monster.html
First in a four-part series on the “CHASE,” a lifestyle plan of exercise, fitness, and nutrition. CHASE is an acronym designed to help us remember what the proper lifestyle is all about.
C =Cruciferous Vegetables
H=High Fiber and Limit
A=Assortment of Fruits
S =Sweat, Stretch, and
E =Extra Protein (legumes,
lean meats and whey protein)
PART 1: NUTRITION
Performance has everything to do with the type of fuel consumed. This is not only true for top performing cars but also for athletes and the average person. The fuel will address in this article is the food and liquids you put in your body. Sure, you can function on junk food, or what I call 87 Grade Octane fuel, but you won’t be your best.
87 OCTANE OR 110?
Think of 87 Grade Octane as the low-grade fuel some put in their cars, and the knocking sound begins as the car is driven down the road. Compare a top athlete in energy levels, performance, and physique with the neighbor who is 50 pounds overweight and sweats walking to the mailbox. Which would you rather strive to be—the lean, well-fueled athlete or the overweight neighbor? Nutritional habits are key to
making you the best athlete you can be. The NASCAR elite use 110 Grade Octane in their cars, and you too should choose the food equivalent for the fuel in your body.
In Box A, you find the 110 Grade Octane list of foods. These super foods should be included in your weekly, if not daily, foods. These foods provide an enormous amount of nutrients, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, which are highly important for the body. I know we need more varieties, so I have another list of foods in Box B called the 93 Grade Octane foods. These are a good complement to the 110 Octane foods. For the best performance, fuel your body with the foods in Boxes A and B. Protein powder, healthier protein bars, and supplements are not included but would fall into the 93 grade octane list and are acceptable.
THE C LIST
Think again of the overweight neighbor. He probably fuels his body with Box C foods—87 Grade Octane. It’s no shocker that these foods don’t make the best fuel for excellent performance. However, I am always shocked at how many people choose these high-fat and high-sugar foods daily and then wonder why they can’t perform at a high level or are overweight. Occasionally choosing a food from this list won’t kill you, but don’t make too many pit stops for these low-octane foods.
FOUR KEY STRATEGIES
Combine the foods in Boxes A and B with the following strategies to rev up your engine. Eat Breakfast. Your body can’t perform effectively if you continue fasting until lunch. Breakfast should be your biggest
and most anticipated meal. To begin a breakfast habit, start small with fruit, whole wheat toast, or a high-octane protein bar. The only time to skip breakfast is when you are about to choose a donut. Slap yourself on the forehead, and ask, “What was I thinking?” This type of low-octane food wreaks havoc on your blood sugar and insulin levels and sets you up with food and body failure for the day.
Eat More Often. Sound good? Plan on 4-6 mini-meals a day. The food amount and calories depend on your size and activity. Once you know the caloric amount your body requires, divide that into the 4-6 meals. Regular fueling provides sustained energy, even blood sugar levels, and a leaner body. Balance Your Food. Each meal should be balanced with a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate. When possible, add a green vegetable several times a day. It’s hard to eat green at breakfast, but if you like spinach early in the morning— go for it. Drink Water. A key nutrient for fueling your personal machine is good ol’ water. You simply must drink it. The minimum for an athlete is the ever-popular eight 8-ounce glasses. Strive for 1/2 ounce for each pound of body weight (a 190-lb. male would need 95 oz. of water).
110 GRADE OCTANE FOODS These are some of the healthiest foods you can fuel your body with. They are low calorie, yummy tasting and packed full of nutrients, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Blue/Black berries and berries of all types
Oatmeal–old fashioned or steel cut
Low-fat Cottage Cheese
Dark Leafy Vegetables
All other fresh Vegetables
All other Fresh Fruits
100-percent Whole Grain Breads
93 GRADE OCTANE FOODS
These foods are great choices for most of your meals and will be a healthy addition to the 110 grade foods.
Whole Grain Breads and Cereals
Lean grilled White Meats
Lean Red Meats
Seafood Broiled or boiled
Fruits and Vegetables
Raw Nuts–preferably walnuts and almonds
Skim or 1% Milk
Whole Wheat Pasta
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Whole Grain Waffles and Pancakes
Protein and Breakfast Bars with at least 10 g Protein and under 20g Carbohydrates
Low-fat / low-sugar Ice cream
Natural Peanut Butter Regular Peanut Butter in moderation
Low-fat Frozen Dinners (preferably 450 mg sodium per serving; next would be 600 mg)
87 GRADE OCTANE FOODS
It will be no surprise that these foods are the unhealthiest of all your food choices. It is our recommendation that you simply STAY AWAY FROM THESE FOODS.
All Deep-Fried Foods
Regular Hot dogs
Regular Tacos and Burritos
Doughnuts and Pastries
Regular Mayonnaise based Salads (macaroni, chicken, tuna, etc.)
Regular Salad dressings
Snack foods with
Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans Fats)
Regular Soft Drinks
Cakes, pies, cookies
Fat back seasoning
Any type food with High Fructose Corn Syrup in the first two ingredients
WE B S I T E : www. S p o r t s S p e c t r um. c om S P O R T S S P E C T RUM ~ N OV EMB E R- D E C EMB E R 2 0 0 7 15
Michelle Sigmon, BS, MS, is a consultant to the Epicenter Sports Performance Facility in Charlotte, NC. Michelle has her master’s degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in
Nutrition. She and her husband Chip have two daughters, Sinclaire and Sydney.