Fitness nutrition is the study of how food and exercise interact to promote weight maintenance, energy levels, and disease prevention. Discover what type of foods fuel your body to fuel exercise, recover faster from strenuous activity, and build muscle mass.
Before your workout, it’s wise to eat a meal with carbohydrates, protein and fats. Eating the right amounts of each can make an immense difference in both performance and recovery.
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients your body requires daily. Not only do they provide energy, but they can also help regulate blood sugar levels.
Carrots can also provide a good source of fiber, which has been linked to reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, an decreased risk of heart disease and improved glycemic control.
Eating carbohydrates of various kinds makes a difference: Simple sugars like fructose can raise triglyceride levels, while complex carbs found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes provide more sustained energy sources.
According to the USDA, you should consume 45-65% of your calories from carbohydrates each day, including 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. This translates to 225-350 grams of carbohydrate daily for someone consuming 2,000 calories daily.
Protein nutrition is essential for fitness as it provides the amino acids necessary to build muscle, repair and regenerate bone, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. Furthermore, protein contains essential vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients that support proper bodily functioning.
Most experts recommend consuming 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight as the ideal amount. The exact amount depends on factors such as the type of exercise, mode and intensity of training, energy intake, carbohydrate consumption and when you consume your protein.
Planning a strategically timed protein intake around exercise is essential for maintaining muscle mass, stimulating muscular hypertrophy, aiding recovery from exercise and maintaining optimal immune function. Whey protein has been scientifically proven to be particularly beneficial here due to its immuno-enhancing properties.
Fats are often overlooked in the fitness community, yet they are an integral part of a nutritious diet. Fats come in many forms and are essential for our bodies’ function, growth and development as well as for running daily activities.
“Good” fats — polyunsaturated oils that remain liquid at room temperature but solidify when chilled — can be found in oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils (olive, canola, sunflower and soy). Studies have even found that these healthy fats may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
“Bad” fats — saturated fats such as those found in meat, cheese, butter, margarine and ice cream – increase cholesterol levels, put you at greater risk for high blood pressure and can lead to heart disease. Trans fats found primarily in processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil also pose risks.
Fats are essential nutrients that the body must get from food sources in order to stay healthy. These fatty acids help control inflammation, support brain development and keep blood clotting normal.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are vital nutrients your body requires in small amounts to stay healthy. Vitamins help create skin, muscle, bone, blood cells; minerals help keep the heart working optimally, fight infections, and transmit nerve signals across miles of brain and body pathways.
Most people get enough vitamin and mineral nutrients from a nutritious diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, fish, meat, dairy products and other foods. However, some individuals require more from their diet due to lifestyle factors or health problems.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have an impact on athletic performance. For instance, Vitamins C and E deficiencies lead to oxidative stress which damages cells and tissue; zinc and iron shortages lead to lack of energy, reduced endurance levels, fatigue; vitamin B12 deficiencies lead to anemia as well as poor athletic performance.