When you are participating in a rigorous fitness program, it’s important to know what you need for fitness nutrition. Too often, people start an intense training program, whether it is strength training or endurance training, without proper knowledge of how your body works, how it uses nutrients that are provided, and what nutrients it needs for you to sustain your workouts. What you need to know is how to best replenish the nutrients you are using.
Listed below are all the nutrients your body needs, and the best way to get them while participating in a rigorous fitness program. This way you can continue losing weight, if that’s what you need, create a healthy lifestyle, and minimize the chances of “wiping out” during your training.
Carbohydrates are your first and foremost energy source for strength training or endurance training. Stored as glycogen in the muscles, it is the fuel used to supply energy for short, intense bursts of power and also to maintain the stamina you need for endurance. The harder and longer you work out, the more glycogen your muscles require. Once these stores of glycogen are gone, your energy level will drop and you will run out of fuel to power muscle contractions.
Experts recommend 3.6 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day. This can vary, depending on the type of workout you do, how many times a week you work out, and the length of your workout. It’s not an exact science, so you’ll need to experiment a little. The quality of your carbs is important. The best sources are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Protein is the basic material for building muscle. Daily protein recommendations for serious strength athletes are about 0.6 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. For endurance athletes, you need about 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight during heavy training and 0.36 to 0.5 grams during regular training. The best sources of protein are fish, chicken, turkey, legumes, soy, and eggs. Red meat is fine once in a while.
Fat is an essential nutrient, however, since many of the foods in the carbohydrates and protein families contain fat, you require a small amount of it to remain healthy. Less than 30% of your total daily calories should come from unsaturated fat, and be sure to make healthy choices like nuts, fish, olive oil, and avacado.
Water and Sports Drinks
In addition to the regular eight glasses of water every day, you need to drink to replace fluids that are lost during exercise. To be confident that you are well hydrated before workouts, drink an 8-oz glass of water every half hour before exercise, starting about 2 hours before the workout. During your workout, drink 4 to 8 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. After exercise, replace any further fluid losses with 16 ounces of water, or a combination of water and sports drinks. Sports drinks are great for replacing electrolytes, like potassium, that are lost during your workout. The best ones are drinks without artificial flavors and colors. You can also use a sports bar after your workout for a carbohydrate boost. It’s important to get plenty of antioxidants to prevent inflammation and cramping, so take 1,000 mg of vitamin C during the first hour after you finish your workout.
If you approach your workouts sensibly, you will avoid crashing, and you will feel stronger. Good luck!