People often ignore benefits of diet and better hydration during exercise. It is a very important to have a balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein, fat and water for a better performance.
Nutrition for energy
Nutrition is basic to any professional athlete or a gym regular for good performance. Balance diet will optimize energy levels and help body recover more effectively.
Body need energy for daily chores, along with that extra energy is needed to meet demands of training and to enable proper recovery from exercise sessions. If it is for training or competition it is better to increase daily energy requirements based on the duration, type and intensity of the activity. A balanced diet will provide:
The main fuel body needs is carbohydrate available in the form of glucose. Excess glucose is stored in muscle as glycogen. During exercise, muscles use stored glycogen and convert them to glucose. Muscle usually stores glycogen sufficient for 60-90 minutes of high intensity exercise. If opting for high intensity exercises its better to replace between exercises by eating carbohydrate food. Inadequate carbohydrate intake leads to muscle fatigue.
Meals should be based on balanced diet including carbohydrate foods such as cereals, breads, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables, legumes, milk and yogurt. Refined sugar, honey and jam are allowed only for athletes with very high-energy requirements else, it is better to avoid these foods.
Proteins are building blocks of the body and they help repair and rebuild muscle after exercise. When carbohydrate reserves are low body uses protein as energy source. A well balanced diet with high-quality protein foods like chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, fish, eggs, dairy foods, nuts and seeds fulfill the requirement of protein for body. Exceptional cases during strength training or endurance athletes need more protein (1.2-1.6g/ kg of body weight/ day). Supplements are a very expensive option to get more protein instead blending skim milk with nuts or whey protein can make a high protein drink more economically.
Fat is the main fuel source for long, low to moderate intensity exercises. It also helps access glycogen from muscles. Healthy fats must be included in diet such as nuts, seeds, fish, skim fat dairy foods, lean meat and avocados and unhealthy fat foods such as biscuits, pastries, chips and deep fried foods should be limited or avoided. Fats digest slowly and can remain in the stomach for a long time so choose wisely.
Keeping body hydrated is one of the most important. Body produces sweat during exercise so that it helps cool down. Lack of water in the body due to sweat can lead to dehydration as small amounts of fluid loss can hinder performance. Drinking small amount of water is essential before, during and after exercise. Do not wait until you feel thirsty, as it is not a good indication because body is already dehydrated.
What is the best drink for sport?
Water is very good for rehydration for less intensity exercise as it is convenient and sufficient for most recreational exercisers. A high intensity exercise for more than 60 minutes choose a drink with carbohydrate and electrolytes, such as milk or sports drink, as they are more effective than water to improve performance. Carbohydrate helps delay fatigue by providing glucose to the muscles, and electrolytes to replace sodium lost in sweat.
Kalman DS et al., Sports Nutrition: What the future may bring. Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2004; 1;61.
Campbell B et al., International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2007. 4:8.