No matter if you’re one of the most elite athletes in the world or your new to exercise, success at any level is directly correlated to proper nutrition. If you want to stand any chance of tapping into the peak of your abilities, you need to be deliberate about your food intake. Paying careful attention to what your body needs at specific time frames becomes paramount. Any attempt to engage in activities with a body that is screaming for essential nutrients is a recipe for disaster. Making sensible decisions about what you put in your body can ensure that you’re getting the most out of every workout. Interested in learning more about the basics? Continue reading!
The three nutrients that everyone should be concerned with are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. You should work on developing a personal strategy that comfortably balances these three macro-nutrients. The operative word being “personal” here. Nutrition is not necessarily a one size fits all recipe. Our cellular makeup is extremely sensitive, which is why the meal plan that helped Jane shed 20lbs may not work for Stephanie or the next person.
Some may argue that carbohydrates are the most critical nutrient for an athlete to consume because carbs fuel muscle. Each time we move a muscle, jump, run or kick a ball, we are using carbohydrates. Your body breaks down carbs into simple sugars and then stores them in muscles and the liver. Earlier we spoke about a comfortable balance. If you happen to ingest more than can be stored in either of these two places, the excess becomes unwanted body fat. When picking carbohydrates for your meals, good options include whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.
In order to effectively build muscle, you need to have adequate protein intake. A good muscle to body fat ratio becomes the foundation for anyone looking to succeed in a fitness regiment. Muscle also has a significant role in protecting the body from diabetes. The more muscle you have the more efficiently your body can uptake glucose from your blood stream. Be sure to include protein in your diet daily because our bodies have difficulty storing protein. Protein from animal sources is the easiest way to get complete protein, but plant-based proteins can be a viable option as well.
There is a huge misconception that we need to avoid or get rid of fat from our diets. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, fats are essential nutrients and we actually require a great deal of fats in our diets. Next time you go food shopping take a second to look at the nutrition labels. Avoid anything that is highly concentrated with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Many of you have come to know these fats as trans-fats which are considered very unhealthy. Good options include olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, wild-caught fish, and avocado.
Like many people, you may have no idea where to start when it comes to putting together a well-balanced meal. I would suggest starting with an eating ratio of 40/30/30/ (carbohydrate/protein/fat) and then adjust the ratios to best fit your body. Remember, one size doesn’t fit all, but you need to adequately give your body what it needs to perform. This is the only way to increase your odds of achieving fitness success. Good luck!