No matter if you’re training for a marathon or simply taking daily laps on the treadmill, proper nutrition will help your body perform at its best. Fueling yourself means eating the appropriate foods both before and after exercise to maximize performance and feel great!
As much as food contains calories, not all are created equally. Some can actually hinder metabolism and sap energy from your system.
Carbs are one of the body’s primary energy sources. Once digested, carbohydrates break down into glucose or blood sugar – fuel for cells and the brain alike – with extra stored up in livers and muscles as a reserve supply of energy to be used later on when needed.
“Bad” carbs include processed foods, white bread and desserts containing refined sugar. These carbohydrates are digested quickly and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, lacking the essential fiber and nutrients of whole grains and vegetables; their excessive consumption could even lead to diabetes and heart disease.
Good carbs can be found in fruits, starches, legumes and dairy products – they’re high in fiber and offer plenty of vitamins and minerals! When shopping at your grocery store, reading food labels will be invaluable in selecting the appropriate carbohydrate source for yourself – selecting unprocessed carbohydrates can greatly enhance your health while aiding weight loss if done in moderation; excess consumption could lead to heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure issues.
Protein is an essential nutrient essential to building muscles, blood cells and enzymes essential for biological reactions in our bodies. Protein also contributes to healthy energy levels but not as drastically as carbohydrates or fats do.
As your glycogen stores of carbs and sugar run low during rigorous exercise, your body may turn to protein for energy; since protein can easily be converted to glucose as immediate fuel.
Protein foods include seafood, meats, poultry and eggs; beans, peas and lentils; soy products; nuts; and seeds. Keeping protein-rich snacks such as jerky or nut butter packets handy is especially helpful on busy days – these quick snacks will still fuel your body the right way!
Fats are an integral component of a nutritious diet. Each gram of consumed fat provides more than double the number of calories provided by proteins and carbohydrates combined, helping the body produce hormones while controlling inflammation.
Healthy fats come from foods such as avocado, nuts and olive oil and provide essential fatty acids that have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure levels and support cardiovascular health.
Fat used to have a bad rep, but research now indicates that “good” fats can play an essential role in a balanced diet. The key is selecting unsaturated fats like monounsaturated (such as avocado) or polyunsaturated (such as nuts and vegetable oils) over saturated and trans ones – these will increase energy, improve moods and keep you fuller for longer as well as reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Furthermore, they serve an important role as fuel sources during intense activity like running or cycling for extended duration of time.
Have you heard this advice countless times: Drink eight glasses of water daily! Unfortunately, its scientific basis may be somewhat tenuous – many individuals may require less than eight glasses daily.
Water’s ability to dissolve other substances makes it an indispensable “universal solvent,” meaning it helps transport important molecules across the body. Water plays an essential role in transporting oxygen directly to cells, providing nutrients and medications when prescribed and helping eliminate waste products from our systems.
An essential element in a healthy diet for exercisers and athletes alike, water is one of the key ingredients to consider in their nutrition plans. Water helps prevent cramping while encouraging muscle gain by transporting proteins and glycogen structures (building blocks of muscle) directly to where they’re needed in the muscles. Water also allows the body to rid itself of heat through sweating which allows it to avoid heat exhaustion or stroke, maintaining blood volume to allow more oxygen flow to working muscles, as well as providing important body cooling capabilities through sweating.