Fuel For Fitness
How much you eat really depends on your goals. If you're trying to drop a few pounds, you don't have to purposely eat more to make up for those...
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Fuel for Fitness
In order to achieve
and maintain good overall health, moderate physical exercise is not just an
option — it’s an absolute necessity. Americans lead increasingly sedentary
lifestyles, and often spend our days sitting in front of computers at work,
only to go home and sit on the couch. Planned fitness activities are needed to
counteract this inactive lifestyle, and proper nutrition is necessary to fuel
You don’t need a
special diet to fuel fitness activities, but a balanced, healthy diet rich in
fresh foods is required in order to reap the health benefits. How much and what
you eat depends on your goals. Keep these four essential criteria in mind as
you create a fitness and eating plan that works for your specific needs and
Working out increases the demands on
the body and therefore increases the need for hydration. When you start
breathing heavier, your body loses water. If you sweat, you lose even more
water. Make sure you drink 8 to 16 ounces of fluid (preferably water) before,
during, and after exercise. The longer you exercise, the more fluid you will need.
If you’re doing more than 45 to 60 minutes of high intensity endurance
exercise, consider a sports drink along the way.
According to the Mayo
Clinic, the average man needs about 3 liters of water each day, and the
average woman needs 2.2 liters. your urine is pale yellow, you are well
hydrated. If it’s darker, you may need to drink more water.
Get a balance of
carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats with every meal. Don’t just eat all
protein or all carbohydrates. All three nutrients are essential for fueling and
recovering from activity. Therefore, elimination diets that shun one or more
food groups are not recommended for weight loss or other goals. The most
sustainable fitness results are achieved with a balance of all nutrients. Eat plenty
of fresh produce, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats in suitable
Eat Small, Eat Often
Eat small meals and
frequent snacks throughout the day. Your body doesn’t want food all at once; it
wants it when the demand is high. By eating small meals throughout the day
rather than two or three big meals, you may control your appetite. This doesn’t
only help you reach fitness goals, but can keep your energy levels high and
prevent spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels. Try to meet your body’s
demand of energy by supplying it with food when you need it. Remember to focus
on light, healthy snacks. Processed or “junk” food contains empty calories and
provides little to no nutrition benefits.
Fuel Up Before, Refill After
Eat before and after
exercise (and during if it’s longer than 60 minutes). Ideally, it’s best to eat
something close to the time you exercise — from a few minutes to up to an hour
before. A banana, yogurt, or handful of nuts is great. Have something to eat
within 30 minutes, but no longer than one hour after exercise. Ideally, a combination
of carbohydrates, protein, and fluid is best. Refueling is important, especially
after a strenuous workout. Once you have torched calories and used up glycogen
(energy) stores, a nutritious snack will help your body recover. Try a peanut
butter whole-grain wrap, or even chocolate milk.
Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N
Medically Reviewed by:
George Krucik, MD, MBA
Sep 8, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.