Sports nutrition has become big business in recent years. Media campaigns are encouraging us to be more ‘active’ and ‘partake in sport’ and what we eat and what we need to eat are big topics of conversation! If you are doing lots of exercise (a few hours week) you’ll inevitably use more energy each day than if you did little or none. The question is; what should you be consuming for the results you want and in order to help your body fully recover?
If you’re aiming to lose weight you may not want to increase your calorie intake, however it’s still very important that you have a balanced diet. It’s a good idea to eat larger portions of carbohydrate-rich foods like wholegrain pasta, rice, sweet potato, porridge and cereals. Carbs are the fuel that power your muscles, and are an essential energy source for the brain and central nervous system. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. As these stores are relatively small it’s important to regularly consume carbohydrate to keep them topped up. Low glycogen stores may leave you tired and more lethargic and can also expose you further to injury.
While carbohydrates are super important in sports nutrition you also need plenty of protein for muscle growth and repair. The proportions of carbohydrate and protein depend on the amount you do and what you do so it may be an idea to research this with a sports professional.
Although it has become something of an ‘ugly’ word ‘fat’ is an essential component of any diet as it helps the body to absorb nutrients as well as being a great source of energy. It provides the body with essential fatty acids that we simply cannot manufacture independently. So keep this in mind when you are planning your diet and workout regime.
Above all, remember to drink fluids before, during and after training. Dehydration can have a major effect on your performance and recovery. It’s a good idea to drink fluids throughout your day to ensure that your body is always properly hydrated when you go to exercise.
In order to stay in shape safely you must consider your recovery and your nutritional plan is just as important in this regard. When you finish exercising, try to eat a carbohydrate-rich food or drink within half an hour. This will ensure you maintain good energy levels throughout the day, whether you are working, exercising or playing!
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