Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand. Nutrients provide energy for the energy supporting systems in your body and regulate metabolic processes. Nutrients support the growth and development of body tissues as they adapt to exercise training. Therefore, it is impossible to reach your fitness goals without giving your body the proper resources of energy to help get you to that next level.
This can be a tricky concept, with new trends developing every day, more fancy energy bars on the market, and every kind of protein powder imaginable on the shelves. No need to be distracted by every trend–the basic science of the amount of macronutrients to contain in your diet to elicit a positive effect on your body has mostly remained the same.
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This macronutrient plays various roles in the human body. In terms of fitness the most important is muscle repair. The recommended daily average intake for protein is .36 grams/ pound of body weight or .8g/kg of body weight. This will turn out to be roughly 10-35% of your consumption of calories.
If you want to increase muscle mass or are involved in strength-type activities such as bodybuilding and weightlifting, you should consume the higher percentile of protein. It has been shown that optimal ranges of protein intake can be 1.5-1.8g/kg of body weight a day.
It is also recommended to consume a snack or meal that contains a 4g carbohydrate for every 1g of protein ratio. Eat about an hour before and within an hour after exercise to further stimulate muscle synthesis. The carbohydrate helps move the protein into the muscle, which will then help rebuild that muscle for the desired effect. Some lean sources of protein include chicken, fish, eggs, beans, or Greek yogurt.
In basic terms, this macronutrients key job is to provide the body with energy. The recommended daily average intake of carbohydrates is 45-65% of daily calories, or about 282-406g per day. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for energy in exercise. This macronutrient becomes important for anyone who is working on their endurance because it is the main supplier of energy to the muscles to keep them going for long periods of time.
Endurance exercisers, like distance runners or bikers, should consume a carbohydrate source of about 60-80g for after every 45 minutes of activity and so on, to help sustain their energy. After exercise these endurance athletes are recommended to consume 60g of carbohydrates per hour for every 3-4 hours after their training session.
These same people do not necessarily need to consume more carbohydrates during their whole training period, but it has been shown that consuming a higher range of carbohydrates during the later phases in training may help decrease stresses in the body and decrease the symptoms of overtraining.
There are many foods that contain carbohydrates. However, you want to try and make sure to choose a food that contains a high level of nutrients, without any added sugar. Examples include whole grain foods such as, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread, fruits, and vegetables.
Fats, like carbohydrates, help fuel the body with energy during exercise and during rest. The recommended daily average intake for fats is 20-35% of daily calories, or about 56-97g per day. Fatty acids are the key energy provider during mild exercise. However, your body can become more efficient at using fats for fuel in order to spare muscle glycogen (carbohydrates) during training, which may allow for the athlete to have better endurance.
Fats are also important in regulation of hormones, cell membrane structure, and to provide energy to metabolic systems during rest. It is very important that people consume fats that are low in saturated and trans fats because these are the fats that can cause problems in your blood system. Some examples of foods that contain healthy fats are lean cuts of meat (preferably white meat), olive oil, avocado, fish, chia seeds and flax seeds.
Whether you are an athlete, or a new gym-goer, it is vital to consume the right amount of nutrients to not only provide your body with adequate energy, rather the nutrients that will bring you to the fitness level where you want to be!