Eating and Excercising

Eating and Exercising


Nutrition is every bit as important for your fitness as exercise. Without the proper nutrients, your body will not have the necessary resources to power you through your workouts or help you recover in time for your next training session. To get the most from your training efforts, pay attention to your nutrition so that your body has all the nutrients it needs to fuel your workouts and recover afterward.


Protein is derived from animal sources such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs and is also present in soya, beans, nuts and grains. Your body uses protein for post-exercise growth and repair. Insufficient protein can result in poor recovery from workouts, reduced strength or decreased muscle mass. Protein is especially important if you are training to gain muscular weight or are involved in bodybuilding activities. If you think you need more protein in your diet, you may choose to use protein supplements such as whey shakes and protein bars. While these supplements are not essential, they can make it easier to meet your daily protein requirements.



Carbohydrates provide energy for exercise and are found in two main forms — simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates, often called sugars, include food items such as fruit and sweets whereas complex carbohydrates, often referred to as starches, are grains and vegetables. Both forms of carbohydrate are broken down into glucose and used by your muscles for energy. Carbohydrates can be refined or unrefined. Refined carbohydrates, such as cookies, white bread, white rice, processed fruit juices and candy, are considered less healthful than unrefined carbohydrates. Examples of unrefined carbohydrates include whole-grain bread, brown pasta, unprocessed vegetables and natural fruit juice.

Unrefined carbohydrates are also your main source of dietary fiber. Fiber is essential for maintaining your digestive health and fitness and is responsible for reducing constipation and maintaining stable blood glucose levels.


There are a number of types of dietary fat — saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fats. Fat is your primary source of energy when you are exercising at low levels of intensity. Fat is very calorie dense and consuming too much fat is linked to problems such as obesity, coronary heart disease and hypertension. While eating too much fat can be detrimental to your health, some dietary fat is essential. Fat is necessary for the transportation and storage of fat-soluble vitamins, hormone production, healthy brain development and immune system function.

The fat most strongly linked to poor health is trans fats. Trans fats occur in nature in small amounts, but most dietary trans fats are unnatural and are mainly the result of processing vegetable oils using high temperatures. Trans fats are linked to a wide number of medical conditions including sterility, joint pain, suppressed immune system function and low birth-weight babies.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals, collectively called micro nutrients, are essential for health and fitness. Micro nutrients are the chemical spark-plugs responsible for catalyzing every chemical reaction that occurs in your body. Exercise increases your need for vitamins and minerals, so you should try to eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and whole grains to ensure you are getting a good balance of all the essential micro nutrients. If you think you need extra vitamins and minerals, you may choose to supplement your diet with a multivitamin and mineral tablet. Taking a tablet will not help you much if your diet is generally poor, but it can add an extra layer of nutrition to an already good diet. Vitamin and mineral supplements are best thought of as a safety blanket to ensure you have all your micro nutrient bases covered. They are not, however, a replacement for a well balanced diet.


Your body consists of around 70 percent water. Water is essential for the function of your digestive system, keeping you cool while you exercise, lubricating your joints and also make up over 90 percent of your blood volume. Exercise causes you to lose water through respiration and sweating and this can lead to dehydration. Chronic dehydration can have a negative effect on your fitness by causing you to fatigue sooner than normal and can also result in an increased incidence of muscle cramp. To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water on a daily basis and increase your water intake if you live in a hot country or sweat heavily during exercise. Aim to consume at least 2 quarts of water per day.


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