Basics Of Nutrition
No mater what your goals are, nutrition is always one of the most important aspects for progressing forward in your health and fitness. They say, “what you get out of your body depends on what you put in it”. You can exercise and be active all hours of every day, but if you are not putting the right nutrition into your body, you will not have the best out come you can get! Nutrition goes deeper than just eating your fruits and vegetables every day. There are caloric balances, vitamins and minerals, pre vs post work out, supplementing, etc, which we will be talking about here.
Caloric balance refers to the amount of calories you take in each day compared to the amount you use up. Our body is constantly burning calories even when we are sleeping. We burn about .5 calories for every pound of body weight per hour in our sleep. The more active we become the more calories we burn. Have you ever felt like you suddenly run out of energy and almost feel faint? This is what we call bonking, and it’s due to a low amount of calories in our system. Calories are our source of energy, which is why it is important to eat and keep up with your calorie needs. The intake of calories also makes up our body weight. The average amount needed per day is 2,000 calories. Tip: (When going over a nutrition label, that is what the daily values are usually based off of.) In order to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you use through out the day (caloric negative). It goes the same for gaining weight. If your goal is to gain weight, you should be taking in more calories than you burn (caloric positive). What makes up the calories in our food? Calories are from fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. These are our macro nutrients. 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories, 1 gram of carbs equals 4 calories, and 1 gram of protein equals 4 calories. Each of the fats, carbs, and proteins in one food make up the total amount of calories per serving. In a well balanced daily diet 45-65% of our calories should be from carbohydrates, 20-35% should be from fats, and 10-35% should be from protein. Functions –
- Fats tend to be avoided when possible, but they are an important part of our diet. Fats provide us with long term energy, transports fat soluble vitamins, protects our organs and other body parts, regulates internal functions and body temperature. When possible, avoid saturated fats. These are usually the fats that stay solid even in warm environments. Trans fats should also be avoided. Fats such as oils that are in liquid form are recommended. These are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Some fats such as Omega 3, which come from fish oils can be taken as a pill.
- Carbohydrates are what we get most of our fuel/energy from. If you plan on going for a distance run or performing a long workout, it is very important to have enough carbs in your system to perform your best the whole time. Even if you workout is not that long, you should have an adequate amount of carbs for energy. Complex carbs are the good carbs that give you energy for a longer period of time and don’t make you jittery or crash. Simple carbs include sugar, which can be found in fruits and other sweet foods. This is important for your diet but gives you “short term energy” before needing more.
- Proteins are the main sours for repairing tissue such as muscles. They are made up of amino acids, which include 9 that are essential and 11 that are nonessential. Along with repairing tissue, proteins help boost our immune system, regulate fluid balance, and promote healthy bones. Maintaining a good protein balance is important for keeping up with your exercise and active life style. Taking sports nutrition supplements such as protein shakes and protein bars are a great way to maintain and excel your hard working body by getting the maximum results from your workouts!
Vitamins and Minerals
Both vitamins and minerals are micronutrients (along with water) needed for our bodies to function properly. Vitamins are substances that come from plants and animals. These are organic nutrients. Minerals (inorganic) are substances that come from water and soil, which are absorbed by plants. In order for us to get an adequate amount of minerals, we must take them in by eating natural foods such as vegetables and fruits and/or taking supplements since our bodies do not produce minerals on our own. A common mistake people make when thinking about their vitamin and mineral intake is believing that organically grown foods have a higher amount of vitamins and minerals, which is not true. Organic means that the foods have not been polluted or sprayed down with any harmful pesticides or grown with GMOs. So organic is healthier because of it being more clean and natural, but it does not mean it has more vitamins and minerals included.
Benefits of Vitamins and Minerals
There is a large variety of benefits from vitamins and minerals since there are so many of them having different functions. By taking in the needed amount of vitamins and minerals it can increase our mental awareness, energy and performance levels, cut back on weight, and promote healthy bones, heart, skin, hair, and more. They can also aid in getting you the most benefits from the food you eat. Different vitamins and minerals have different functions, which is why it is important to have the recommended amount of all of them. However, that can obviously be tough to do. The best way to get them is by eating the right foods, but even with that you would need to eat a lot to keep up with your daily value, which is what makes supplements a great help! Supplements are a clean, healthy, and organic (if bought from the right company) way to fill in the gaps and meet your vitamin and mineral nutritional needs!
Pre vs Post Workout
Eating foods that have high nutrition density is always important when ever you eat, but timing what it is you eat is also just as important to maximize your results. We know that high amounts of protein help recover and carbohydrates give us energy, so lets take a look at how we should be using something like that to our advantage when planning a work out. If you have a high intensity workout, game, or competition coming up soon (as in a little less than a day away), then you should be sure you are going to have the right nutrition to perform it with as much energy and power as possible.
Pre Workout – Be sure that you have an adequate amount of carbohydrates in your system. Remember that complex carbs are going to last longer and be more nutritious for you, but simple carbs can be taken shortly before the workout for a quick boost. Having things such as an energy bar, meal bar, whole grain oats, or potatoes are usually a good source of carbohydrates before a workout or run. Very high intensity exercises including sprints, accelerated cycling, rowing, plyometrics, etc, are also going to require some healthy fats such as oils like fish oil/Omega 3 acids, Hemp oil (stick to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). This is because when doing those high intense movements at a rapid pace, your body is going to target fatty acids to accumulate energy. Making sure you have enough vitamins and minerals is just as important. Like we talked about in the vitamins and minerals section, micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and water) have a big impact on our energy levels, awareness, performance, and more. If you have the recommended/needed amount of vitamins and minerals, you will be able to last longer during your workout and feel more energized and alert through out the whole time giving you better results from the hard work that you put into it!
Post Workout – Your body is going to require somewhat different nutrients for post workout.After finishing a high intensity work out, it is highly recommended to take in some sort of high quality protein to help your body recover! Protein bars, and shakes are a great way to quickly get the right protein into your system shortly after a workout. Also, eating foods like fish, chicken, lean meat, nuts, and eggs are a few of the recommended foods that are high in protein. This is especially important in your diet for those who are constantly active, exercise 3 or more times a week, or athletes! If your body does not recover enough before the next work out, you are less likely to get satisfactory results and may begin to plateau. Eating carbohydrates after a long workout is also important. Your body needs to replace carbs in order to function at its best. Also, carbs help bring the proteins and other nutrients through out the body to do their job. Sports drinks can also be an important part of activity to replace electrolytes during and after your exercise. Electrolytes are a positive charge in the blood that give us energy, helps regulate water, and gives your muscles the ability to function normally. They are usually found in salt (sodium), calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, and potassium. Lastly, water is a vital nutrient in order for us to survive. It makes up just over 50% of our body weight and when we lose some of that through regular body functions such as sweating, breathing, and urinating, we you need to replace it to avoid dehydration. Excessive loss of water can lead to exhaustion, diarrhea and vomiting, and faint. To maintain a healthy amount of water in your body, you should drink – 7 – 10 oz 10 – 20 minutes before exercise 6 – 12 oz every 15 – 20 minutes during exercise 16 – 24 oz after exercise for every pound lost. Your body will naturally get rid of the water it does not need.
Eating the right foods is usually the best way to get your nutritional needs. However, that is not always the easiest or most convenient way of doing things. We know that people are usually on the run and don’t have time for a full well balanced meal that includes the recommended daily values of nutrition. This is where supplements come in handy! There are a large variety of different supplements, which come in many forms that we can take, and they have many important individual functions. Supplements can be taken to meet our daily vitamin and mineral needs, increase our energy and focus, help work with a deficiency, manage weight, keep our bodies young, and maximize good bodily functions. Starting off by taking something as small as a daily multivitamin can help jumpstart a better and healthier “you”!