This is a guest post by Proactiv.
Exercise is an all-rounder when it comes to good health. It can make you live longer, stay healthier, feel better about your body and happier about your life. Most of us need to get more exercise than we currently do but, what about those for whom exercise is already a big part of their lives? Athletes are people who think about exercise as more than an occasional hobby. It’s a way of life.
If you fall into this category, it’s likely that you regularly think about the effects exercise has on your body and can see its many benefits. But, what about when it comes to food? How does exercising affect your need for carbs, protein and other nutrients?
Consider heart health
Lots of exercise falls into the ‘cardio’ category, meaning it gives your cardiovascular system a good work out. To make sure you do your best when it comes to cardio it’s important to ensure you have good heart health. It’s worth, for example, learning about what normal cholesterol levels are, and testing yours so you can see where the numbers sit.
If you need to reduce your cholesterol, try getting more fruit and vegetables into your diet: opt for unsaturated rather than saturated fats and eat products with added plant sterols and stanols. After eating like this for a while, see your local healthcare practitioner to check whether you are back in the normal cholesterol levels range.
Focus on carbohydrates before a workout...
It’s one thing to eat healthy in your day-to-day, but quite another knowing exactly what to eat in the run up to a big event. Maybe you’re running a marathon or doing a triathlon? How exactly should you eat beforehand? Essentially, pre-workout it’s important to eat carbs. Try ‘carb-loading’ for three to four days before a major event to make sure you have lots of energy. If you’re doing exercise for extended periods of time, it’s also important to replenish your carb store regularly. Make sure to have some easy-to-eat and nutritious snacks at hand!
...And protein after a workout
After a workout, your muscles will be trying to recover, and one great way to help them do so is by eating some protein. Protein is the muscle tissues building block, meaning it’s absolutely vital for the growth of your muscles when training. Aim for lean proteins like white meat, fish, nuts, beans, milk or eggs.
Think about the timings of your food and fluids
It’s not just about what you eat, but also about when. If you’re participating in a big fitness event, make sure to avoid eating anything heavy for around three to four hours before you start. That’s because during strenuous exercise it’s difficult for your body to properly digest anything, and the attempt to do both could affect your performance. Also think about fluids before a fitness session. Be sure to hydrate well before you begin and drink more at least every ten to fifteen minutes!
Those are our top four tips for athletes and regular workout enthusiasts out there. Fitness nutrition can be complex, so if you’re undertaking any new activities be sure to get detailed advice from a trained professional. It is worth taking fitness nutrition seriously: once you’ve fuelled up you’ll be ready to go and give it your best!