Nutrition plays a vital role both before and after physical activity. An active body requires carbohydrate and fat for fuel, protein for recovery and repair, vitamins and minerals to maintain energy metabolism and water to hydrate and prevent fatigue. It’s important your body gets the right amount of nutrients before your activity begins, but then equally as important to replenish your body afterwards.
Glucose is especially important for moderate to high intensity exercise. It is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, and during physical activity, glycogen is broken down in the liver and releases glucose into the bloodstream. Your muscles need this glucose, as well as glycogen stores, to fuel your activity. If you are going to be involved in high intensity exercise that lasts for hours, you may want to consider consuming a high-carbohydrate diet (approximately 70% of energy intake). Eating high-carbohydrate foods immediately after exercise can also improve glycogen stores.
Protein, as mentioned in the outset, is important for repair and recovery. With that being said, if you have a regular fitness routine, you probably require more protein than if you led a sedentary lifestyle. High protein foods eaten shortly after exercise have been shown to optimize muscular adaptations and helps to encourage muscle synthesis…that’s just fancy for: it helps your muscles grow and recover.
What about supplements? Well, supplements are just that, they supplement or support a healthy diet and lifestyle. While they are not able to enhance performance, they certainly can help support your body. For example, physically active women who regularly participate in endurance activities may be prone to iron deficiencies and therefore may want to consider a nutritional supplement. Also, since protein is such a key player in exercise, if you’re involved in consistent strength training, you may want to consider supplementing with amino acids such as arginine, glutamine and taurine. Some research even shows that ingesting turmeric root can reduce the cause of delayed onset muscle soreness.
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