Your diet plays an important part in achieving your fitness goals. If you are putting junk into your body then you are cheating yourself out of good health and an optimal fitness level. With all the fad diets and unhealthy diet trends that are out there it can be difficult to determine just what you should be doing. We’ve cut to the chase here and show you how a diet adjustment can help you reach your fitness goals.
Why Good Nutrition Makes a Difference
Any type of exercise that engages your muscles – flexibility training, resistance training, weight training, or cardio – expends energy. Your muscles need good nutrition to keep them working at their best. Good nutrition will carry you through your workout and into the recovery period. Supplying your body with nutrients before and after (sometimes even during) will improve the results you get from your exercise.
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad name due to certain carb free diets, but in reality, you need carbs to provide your muscles with energy. They literally power your workout. Simple carbs, like sugar, are bad, but complex carbs are particularly crucial to your workout because, in addition to your body using them as fuel, they also accumulate as glycogen in your liver and muscles. This glycogen is used by your muscles while you work out to keep them working. Intense exercise depletes your stores of glycogen, so you must replenish them after or sometimes during your workout. This speeds up your recovery time and prepares your muscles for the next workout. You need between 1 and 1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of your weight daily.
Foods rich in complex carbs include:
- Brown Rice
- Chick Peas
- Kidney Beans
Protein is the main component that makes up your muscle tissue. It fuels your muscles, building new muscle fibers and repairing muscle tissues that are damaged during exercise. A protein rich diet helps with increasing muscle mass and strength. It also helps with muscle recovery so your time between workouts is shortened. You need around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of your weight daily.
Foods rich in protein include:
- Greek Yogurt
- Lean Beef
Vitamins and Minerals
Your body needs vitamins and minerals for a variety of life functions, especially during exercise. They make your workout more productive and provide your body with needed energy. Iron is one such vital mineral. Blood cells transport oxygen which is carrying a protein rich in iron throughout your body to fuel your workout. Inadequate iron in your system means that this cannot happen and it can impact your stamina, making it difficult or impossible for you to workout very long. Vitamin C helps with tissue repair and helps decrease your recovery time between workouts. It also helps your body absorb iron. The mineral sodium helps your body keep a healthy balance of fluid. Not getting enough sodium in your diet can cause muscle cramps at night and while exercising. The recommended daily intake of sodium is 2400 mg per day. However, the American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of 1500 mg for people who have high blood pressure.
Water is one of the most important nutrients that you can include in your diet, especially during exercise. It is crucial that you are properly hydrated during your workout because as you sweat and breathe heavily you lose precious fluids – fluids your body needs to function properly. Staying properly hydrated keeps your heart rate from getting too high and helps keep your body temperature regulated. Lack of hydration can cause your heart rate to increase which may raise your body temperature to dangerous levels. You need to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout so that you can exercise safely.
What you put into your body will determine what you get out of it. That is why it is so important that you make healthy food choices and ensure that you are getting the right nutrients to fuel your workout. Even fat is necessary because your body uses it to absorb certain vitamins and minerals as well as cushion vital organs. Just about anything in excess is not good, but when you practice moderation and fuel your body in a smart way you can really amp up your workout and reach your fitness goals.