Why is fitness nutrition so important?
You’ve made the commitment to optimize your body fitness level by investigating proper workout techniques.
It’s just as relevant to investigate fitness nutrition, apart from the better workout supplements.
This is the part of the fitness equation that is overlooked by many people, yet it remains a vital component of any complete fitness regimen. Simply put, exercise and nutrition go together like words and music.
You do not have to sacrifice your favorite foods in order to use optimal fitness nutrition. Instead, you can carve out a nutritional regimen that will complement your physical efforts to reach and sustain the body you want. The key is to watch how much you eat, when you eat, and how often you eat.
It’s not so hard to learn this. You can start by looking at the food labels the next time you shop for groceries. Read the label on the orange juice container in your refrigerator, for starters. Look at the various vitamins it does and does not offer. Compare brands —what is the difference between a healthy brand of soup and a standard soup?
Ultimately, in fitness nutrition information
, you’re looking at labels to learn about a food’s protein content, carbohydrates, fat, sodium level, glycemic index load (more info on our what is glycemic index page) and sugars.
The nutritional block that’s printed on the label of every food item for sale in stores was developed in the 90s to tell consumers not just how many grams of protein or how much vitamin C, but also to identify how much there is of the recommended daily amount.
As you learn to interpret this information, you will become more and more adept at judging a food’s value for you at a glance. Click here for a quick - how to read nutrition label - guide!
Another way to accurately determine the nutritional content of any food is to go to online databases. We like to use the USDA national food database and a smaller (easier to navigate) database site called foodcount.com to find nutrition information on different foods. The USDA site is a mega-site and is by far the largest database of food you will find anywhere but it's a bit hard to navigate (until you get used to it) because of its massive size. Also, take a look at the official food pyramid as published by the USDA.
For a comprehensive list of fruit nutrition facts (example: banana nutrition facts; apple nutrition) you can click on the preceding links. We have compiled a list of nutritional values for most fruits which means you don't need to search around databases for fruit nutrition info. Thus, our fruit nutrition fact lists will save you time for at least one food group. You may also want to check out the article on foods that lower blood pressure.
Fitness Nutrition - The Importance of Protein
Protein is the organic compound present in food that’s most important for our bodies. It is an amino acid that is the building block of all body tissue.
Scientists define it as a polymer, which sounds like a plastic, but in simple terms, this simply means that it comes as a series of repeated molecules. (In fact, both natural and synthetic substances fall into polymer categories). Humans need these chains comprising some twenty various amino acid compounds to make up the base and substance of our bodies.
How much protein you should consume for optimal fitness nutrition depends upon what your current size is and what you would like it to be.
You can refer to
this calorie calculator to determine your own needs.
At this calculator, you enter your age, sex, height and weight—being careful to pay attention to whether you are entering pounds or kilograms —and an honest indication of your activity level. Once you click the button to calculate, this tool will show you how many calories you should consume per day, including a breakdown of fat, protein, carbohydrates necessary to maintain good health.
For optimal fitness nutrition you need to eat protein in some form every three to four hours each day in order to achieve positive nitrogen balance. Positive nitrogen balance is common among those who are experiencing growth spurts, rebuilding tissue, or pregnancy. Negative nitrogen balance is found among those suffering from wasting illnesses. The normal adult takes in as much nitrogen as he puts out, for a zero balance.
If you’re working out and rebuilding fat tissue into muscle, you need to have a positive nitrogen balance. You can sustain this muscle building phase by ingesting protein every three to four hours so that you will take in more nitrogen than you expend.
Contrast this with a negative nitrogen balance, which occurs when your meals are too far apart. When that happens, your body reacts as if it’s in a starvation survival mode, and it will break down the tissues you have worked to build.
You can see how important it is to maintain evenly spaced protein consumption. At three-to-four hour intervals throughout the day, you can choose snacks or meals from chicken, lean beef, turkey, fish, egg whites, almonds, whey protein powder, tofu, or legumes. Take a look at the list of high protein foods to get a better idea of which foods are rich in protein.
Fitness Nutrition - the Importance of Carbohydrates
Yes, you read that right. You also need to consume the proper carbohydrates and fats during your regimen.
During recent years, carbohydrates have suffered a bad rep because of all the unreliable fad diets that are out there.
Carbohydrates are, in fact, the preferred fuel of choice for our bodies. More accurately, think of them as the flint in your lighter. The protein and the fats are the lighter fluid, but you can’t get that flame burning without the flint.
Carbohydrates enable our bodies to process the fuels we’ve taken in for proper brain function, cardiac activity, metabolism, and so much more.
But if you take in too many carbohydrates, your body will not be able to use them all. They will be stored as fat, stored energy our body can tap into during times of emergency.
Using the calculator, if your aim is to achieve muscle, you can make certain you ingest between 2-3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight. If you are reducing weight, you should limit that to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight.
Our bodies need both simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are the monosaccharides that we process quickly, found in the sugars of fruits or juice, including bananas, pears, apples, and oranges, in milk or yogurt.
Complex carbs—polysaccharides—are digested more slowly, and they are richer in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You will find them in potatoes, rice, whole-grain breads, cereal or oatmeal, legumes, and pasta. You can also get these from weight gainer supplements.
Fitness Nutrition - The Importance of Good Fats
We also need fats in our diets to metabolize nutrients that are not water soluble, including vitamins A, D, E, and K. They also support our integument system of skin, hair, and nails. They protect and cushion our organs.
We hear of three types of fats: saturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats. This has to do with the number of hydrogen atoms bonded to a fat’s carbon atoms. In saturated fats, the carbon atom is bonded to two hydrogen atoms.
In unsaturated fats, the carbon atom is bonded to one hydrogen atom, and there can be a double bond between the carbon atoms of two fat molecules. When the unsaturated fat molecule’s double bond occurs on opposite sides of the carbon atom, it is a trans-isomer fat, commonly known as a trans fat.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and they include foods produced from animals such as fatty meats and cheese. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and nature gives them to us both as monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, and polyunsaturated fats.
The latter includes both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids such as salmon, flax seed, sunflower oil, saffron oil, and even pumpkin oil. Many foods are a combination of fats, such as butter, which is 60% saturated fat, 30% monounsaturated, and 10% polyunsaturated.
Foods containing trans fats are often hydrogenated—bonded to hydrogen molecules—to extend their shelf life. In fact, when peanuts are ground up into peanut butter, the healthy peanut oil is extracted and marketed independently. The peanuts are mixed with hydrogenated oils that render standard peanut butter much less healthy.
That’s a perfect example of why it’s so important to read food labels. Trans fats are the worst type for your cardiac health. We recommend that you keep your overall fat intake at a low level by limiting processed oils and butters. The Omega fatty acids and Omega 3 fatty supplements are the best way to keep healthy fat in your diet.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of nutrition in general as it relates to everyone (not limited to the fitness and bodybuilding nutrition context only) you can go to our - why is nutrition important? - page or learn more about how to design a proper fitness nutrition plan.
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