Let's work out together!
Let's work out together!
Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get the calories and nutrients you need to fuel your daily activities, including regular exercise.When it comes to eating foods to fuel your exercise performance, it’s not as simple as choosing vegetables over doughnuts. You need to eat the right types of food at the right times of the day.Let us Learn about the importance of healthy breakfasts, workout snacks, and meal plans.
Paying attention to your macros and timing your nutrition to support your workouts are two of the best ways to move closer to where you want to be. While protein gets a lot of press among athletes and weight loss gurus, it’s not the only macronutrient you need! The three primary nutrients your body needs to function are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Each plays a different role in overall health and in helping you achieve your fitness goals. While both protein and carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram, fat provides 9 calories per gram.
When you eat enough protein you provide your body with the building blocks (amino acids) needed to repair, maintain, and build your muscles. Including protein in every meal also boosts your leptin levels—a hormone that suppresses your appetite. Pairing protein with a good quality carbohydrate can help you feel full longer. But because the body can’t store protein for later use, it’s important to include some protein at every meal and snack time. It’s also smart to space your protein intake evenly throughout the day—about every three to four hours. Eggs, grass-fed beef, chicken, turkey, and omega-3 rich fish like salmon are good sources of protein.
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad name lately, but they are essential for energy and exercise performance. Healthy complex carbohydrates are an efficient source of energy that fuel muscle contractions. Carbs are broken down into smaller sugars (glucose, fructose, and galactose) in the body to be used as quick energy for immediate tasks. Any unused glucose will be converted into glycogen and stored in the muscles and liver for future use. Glycogen is the energy source most often used for short, intense bouts of exercise, such as sprinting or weightlifting. If your fitness routine falls into the low to moderate exercise category, the carbs you eat during your regular meals are probably sufficient. However, if you participate in high-intensity exercise or endurance activities that last for more than an hour, it’s smart to replenish your carbohydrate stores during your workout. Look for healthy complex carbs in whole grains like oatmeal, farro, and quinoa, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips.
Fat is another macronutrient that has suffered from a bad reputation in the fitness and weight loss world. But research shows that eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Instead, healthy fats provide critical fuel for lower intensity activities like walking or biking, as well as endurance exercise. Essential fatty acids are also critical for overall health. Not only do these fats ensure healthy cell structure, protect your internal organs, and help to keep you warm, they are also necessary for the absorption of some nutrients and the production of hormones. Healthy fats include avocados, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts.
If hitting the gym is part of your fitness routine, you’ve likely seen those bodybuilders with their gallon jugs filled with pre-workout branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) or caffeinated blends of sports nutrients like nitric oxide and creatine. But unless you train hard or workout for more than an hour at a time, you likely don’t need these specialty nutrients. That said, fueling your body with the right nutrients before a workout will ensure you have the strength and energy for optimal performance, no matter how intense your exercise.
What you eat and when you eat it matters for optimizing your metabolism, especially if you are training for or participating in an endurance activity like a half-marathon or an obstacle course races. Eating carbohydrates within 60 minutes of an endurance activity will boost your insulin and blood glucose levels just before you exercise. This can improve your performance.
But if you’re just aiming to hit a Zumba class or do some moderate weight lifting, opt for a balanced pre-workout snack containing both carbohydrates and protein 45 minutes before you train. Here are some healthy, whole foods options:
What you eat after a workout is as important—if not more important—than what you eat before. A post-workout meal or snack will help with muscle recovery and glycogen replacement. It also helps build muscle mass and strength after a resistance-based workout like weight lifting. While the pre-exercise focus is primarily on carbs, the spotlight after your workout should be on protein. And timing is critical. Try to eat your post-workout meal or snack within 45 minutes of your workout. Studies show that waiting for as little as two hours after you’ve racked that last weight can cut the rate of glycogen synthesis by as much as 50%.
When you choose foods that are easily digested, you promote faster absorption to speed nutrients to your depleted muscles. Here are some ideas for effective post-workout meals:
Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey or are a bona fide gym rat, getting in shape starts with the food you eat. Ultra-processed foods filled with refined grains, sugar, and unhealthy fats make up nearly 34 percent of calories in the average American diet. Not only do these foods contribute to weight gain, but they also foster systemic low-level inflammation and, according to new research, increase the risk of chronic illness and early death.
What’s the difference between processed and ultra-processed foods? Processed foods are real foods that have been altered during the manufacturing process to increase the nutrient profile or extend the food’s shelf life. Good examples of this are sweetened fruit juice or frozen potatoes. Ultra-processed foods, however, are foods that contain artificial colors and flavors, added sugars, hydrogenated fats, and chemical preservatives designed to light up the reward centers in our brains. Examples of these faux foods include soft drinks, energy drinks, artificially flavored chips or crackers, and sugary breakfast cereal. Because these foods are nutritionally bankrupt, they won’t do a thing to boost your fitness levels.
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of natural fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that your body needs to function properly. They’re also low in calories and fat.Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal.Try to “eat the rainbow” by choosing fruits and veggies of different colors. This will help you enjoy the full range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that the produce aisle has to offer.Every time you go to the grocery store, consider choosing a new fruit or vegetable to try. For snacks, keep dried fruits in your workout bag and raw veggies in the fridge.
Regular dietary intake of vitamin C is required to maintain health and prevent deficiency of the nutrient. Whole food sources of vitamin C provide additional nutrients and phytochemicals, such as bioflavonoids, which may increase the nutrient’s bioavailability (proportion of the vitamin that is circulated for use). When an individual’s need for vitamin C is increased or intake through dietary sources is insufficient, vitamin C supplementation may be considered.
Scientific literature has proposed that the RDAs for vitamin C may not meet bodily needs and that optimal health may require vitamin C supplementation. Vitamin C can be supplemented orally or intravenously when higher doses are required.
Research suggests that synthetic vitamin C supplements may have comparable bioavailability to vitamin C found in food. A review examined the effects of synthetic vitamin C, food-derived vitamin C, and the combination of vitamin C and bioflavonoids in human trials. The study findings suggest that the intake of vitamin C in tablets, capsules, and liquid solution was comparable to the food sources used in the trials (e.g., kiwi, orange juice, broccoli, raspberries). Additionally, the study included one relevant human trial involving supplementation of vitamin C with bioflavonoids which showed the combination supplement had a comparable bioavailability to vitamin C on its own.
Plant compounds known as sterols and stanols have been shown to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol levels by eight to 10%. Long-term studies have found that a dose of two grams per day of sterols/stanols are not associated with adverse effects and may be beneficial as a complementary treatment to statin medications in individuals with irregular lipid levels.
Treatment of high cholesterol commonly includes medications such as statins and bile acid sequestrants. Unfortunately, these medications may have adverse effects including muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, and cognitive problems. In addition to medications, there are several evidence-based dietary supplements that may help regulate cholesterol levels, including niacin, soluble fiber, plant sterols and stanols, artichoke leaf, and red yeast rice.
Dietary fibers are carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion in humans. Diets high in fiber have been associated with lower cholesterol levels and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. One type of fiber, soluble fiber, dissolves in water, forming a gel-like consistency, and is found in dietary sources such as flaxseed and psyllium. Examples of soluble fiber include β glucans, guar gum, and pectin. Soluble fiber may help to improve cholesterol levels by stimulating the production of bile acids, reducing liver cholesterol content, increasing LDL cholesterol elimination, and slowing the absorption of dietary components in the small intestine, including cholesterol.
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is found in dietary supplements and foods such as meat (e.g., beef, poultry), fish (e.g., salmon, tuna), brown rice, and peanuts. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials compared the cardiovascular effects of niacin when supplemented with statin medication to a control group receiving a placebo or other lipid-lowering therapies. The review found that the niacin with statin intervention was associated with a 21% increase in HDL cholesterol from baseline. The niacin with statin group also had a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, coronary death, nonfatal myocardial infarction (heart attack), and stroke compared to the control group. However, the researchers concluded that niacin does not result in a significant risk reduction of cause-specific mortality, total mortality, or recurrent cardiovascular events.
Now that you know the importance of nutrition & exercise, and how fitness nutrition is the prelude to an active lifestyle, you can talk to your practitioner about a fitness nutrition plan that works for you
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