Maintaining a fit Body Requires Balanced Nutritional Intake
Exercise is only half the battle when it comes to fitness. The other half is how you fuel your body. Good nutrition is essential to your physical and mental well-being. This is true for professional athletes as well as everyday individuals. The human body requires the right type of fuel to operate at optimal efficiency. Let’s look at what you should be eating for good nutrition.
Carbohydrates are Essential to Good Nutrition and Staying Fit
Carbohydrates often get a bad rap for allegedly providing energy and little else. Yet the type of carbohydrate you consume matters a great deal. Simple carbohydrates like those found in muffins, cookies, bread, pretzels, and pastries should be avoided. Opt for complex carbohydrates like those found in beans, vegetables, steel cut oatmeal and yams. Carbohydrates are especially important when you are active. For example, it is prudent to add at least 100 calories to your typical caloric intake for each mile you run.
Your body requires specific vitamins and minerals to function as designed. However, many people do not receive the proper number of vitamins from the food they consume. Do not sabotage your body in such a manner. Take a daily multi-vitamin to ensure your body receives all the minerals it needs. If you are a runner, your body will require a significant amount of iron and calcium. So be sure to load up on foods that are chock full of these minerals. Foods high in iron include beans, lentils, spinach, chicken liver, veal, fish, turkey, mussels, oysters, and beef. Foods and beverages rich in calcium include broccoli, cheese, watercress, raw milk, kale, sardines, yogurt and bok choy.
A Word About Fat
Not all fat is bad. You have probably heard of the “good fat” found in avocados, nuts, and other foods. In general, one-quarter of your daily calories should be from unsaturated fats. Aside from avocados and nuts, other foods with “good fat” include salmon, nut butter, and vegetable oil.
The timing of your nutritional intake matters a great deal. If you consume food at the wrong time, your energy levels will suffer and you won’t be able to recover from strenuous workouts in an efficient manner. The body requires fat and glycogen during activity. Consume carbohydrates when running and training. Your glycogen levels will decrease as you exercise, especially when you engage in a cardiovascular activity. Your body will run out of glycogen unless it is restored through food consumption. Eat before, during and after your runs. Examples of food to consume before working out include bananas, apples, and wheat muffins. Try to space out your snacks/meals so you eat a full hour prior to exercising.
Good Nutrition: The Role of Snacking
In terms of snacks, opt for food that your body digests with ease. Energy bars are easy to digest. They provide you with carbohydrates and boost your energy. If you run especially long distances, be sure to consume some food during the run. This sustenance will replenish your energy and keep you going until the end of your running session. Opt for a mid-run snack that has complex carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels. Try to eat such a snack every 30 minutes when running or engaging in other cardiovascular exercises.
How to Replenish Your Body
Your nutritional intake is especially important following exercise. Your body requires the right nutrients to replenish protein and glycogen. Otherwise, your muscles won’t recover as they should. Eat a healthy snack or meal within the half hour following your exercise session.