3 Nutrition Rules To Boost Fitness
There’s no doubt that physical activity is beneficial to your health. Whether you’re a professional athlete or an occasional yogi or recreational sport player, nutrition and exercise go hand in hand when it comes to maximizing your workouts or improving your performance. What you eat before and after exercise, as well as on a regular basis, has a big impact on your energy level, how well you perform during the activity, and how well you recover from a workout.
It’s important to get enough nutrition to maintain your health and optimize your performance. But what kind of foods would you eat to benefit your workout? And when?
1. Pay Attention To Nutrition
When it comes to fitness, most people tend to focus on the physical activity aspect, and overlook the importance of nutrition basics. Proper nutrition is imperative to maximize athletic performance. Not getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can compromise your health and performance. Not getting enough carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can make you feel sluggish, fatigued, or extremely hungry during a workout.
Following the rules of a healthy diet is a great place to start to fuel up for activity. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, consume lean proteins and healthy fats, eat whole-grain carbohydrates, and drink plenty of water. However, nutrition for fitness can be highly individualized. For example, athletes may also need to focus on specific vitamins and minerals for optimal performance, such as iron, vitamin D, and zinc. It is helpful to consult with a nutritionist or personal trainer to review your individual needs and goals and make specific recommendations based on your body and fitness level.
2. Fuel Up With Macronutrients
It is important to give your body the energy it needs to do what you want it to – even if your goal is to lose weight. Consuming enough macronutrients–carbohydrates, protein, and fat–to fuel your body is crucial for optimal exercise performance. By skimping on nutrition, you risk reducing muscle mass, lowering bone density, and causing fatigue. Which then puts you at risk of injury and illness, increases recovery time, and causes hormonal problems.
When it comes to fueling for exercise, it’s imperative to find the right balance of macronutrients for your body. For example, physical performance and post-exercise recovery are enhanced by consuming carbohydrates and protein. Make sure your nutrition plan contains enough nutrient-dense calories so you can exercise without injury and stay healthy.
Carbohydrates are the bodies’ preferred source of fuel. They provide the energy we need to go about our lives in addition to maximizing workouts. Research over the past 50 years has shown that carbohydrates help your body during long, high-intensity workouts. The more active you are, the more carbs you need.
Carbohydrates fuel your brain and muscles during a workout. If you are in good shape and want to fuel a daily, low-intensity exercise, for the average workout, you should eat about 3-5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kilograms), that’s between 200-340 grams a day. For longer workouts more than an hour a day, you may need 6-10 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight. So for that 150 pound person, that’s now 408-680 grams a day.
Be sure to eat healthy carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain bread and pasta, sweet potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.
Protein plays a big role in building muscle as well as the repair and recovery of bones, joints, and ligaments after exercise.
Research suggests that very active people should eat 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. People who aren’t as active can eat less protein, like 0.8 grams of body weight each day.
Some good sources of protein include poultry and fish. If you’re vegetarian you can try soybeans and legumes like beans, peanuts, and chickpeas. Eggs, greek yogurt, cheese, and tofu are also good sources of protein.
Some may think fats are bad and should be avoided at all costs. But fat is essential to a healthy diet. Fat keeps us full and satisfied and helps cushion our bones and joints. Fat also provides energy and helps your body absorb vitamins. Some vitamins (like A, D, E and K) actually need fat to properly benefit your body.
Be sure to pick unsaturated fats. Good sources are avocado, olive and canola oils, flaxseed and nuts.
3. Take Advantage of Superfoods
A “superfood” is a label used for certain foods that supposedly offer maximum nutritional benefits or being exceptionally dense in nutrients. However, it’s important to note that while some foods are more nutritious than others and can positively affect your health, no single food is responsible for optimal health or disease prevention.
But if you are trying to increase the nutrient density of your diet, including some of these so-called “superfoods” is still an excellent idea. Some examples of superfoods include leafy greens, berries, eggs, sweet potato, and turmeric. They contain antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, and protein that are beneficial for fitness performance.