Fueling your Body for Optimal Performance
From ”weekend warriors” to ”Ironman” finishers, performance is directly linked to diet. If you want to train at the peak of your ability and recover quickly, you must be intentional about what you eat, taking care to feed your body what it needs. Trying to work out with a body that is starving for essential nutrients will end only in frustration; and frustration eats your momentum and resolve with a voracious appetite.
Make the most of every minute you work out by fueling your body sensibly. Let’s look at the basics.
Nutrition 101: the foundation
The three main nutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fat. An eating strategy that balances these three macro-nutrients will improve your fitness results.
Carbohydrates: Some have argued that carbohydrates are the most important nutrient that an athlete consumes, because carbs fuel muscle. Every time you move one of your muscles, you are using carbohydrates. Your body breaks down carbs into sugar and then stores them in your muscles and liver. If you eat too many carbohydrates, the excess is stored as fat in your body.
Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.
Proteins: In order to build muscle, you must have protein. Muscles are the foundation of every athlete: without a solid muscle base, it is difficult to achieve your fitness goals. Muscle also plays an important role in protecting you from diabetes. The more muscle you have, the more efficiently your body can uptake glucose from your bloodstream.
It is important to eat protein daily. Protein from animal sources is the easiest way to get complete protein, but plant-based proteins can be combined as well.
Fats: It is unfortunate that fat came under such fire during the last decade or so. Fats are essential. . . but the right kind is the key. Avoid anything that is hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. These fats also are called trans-fats and are very unhealthy. Try to get the majority of your fat from olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, wild-caught fish and free-range animal products such as butter, cheese, yogurt, beef and poultry.
Finding the balance
Like many people, it’s easy to get confused about how to balance the different kinds of foods you eat.
The key to fueling your body for peak performance is balance and moderation. In The New Rules of Lifting for Women, Cassandra Forsythe insists that eating a ratio of 40/30/30 (carbohydrate/protein/fat) will bring the best results. Start here and then adjust the ratios to see what best suits your body.
Remember: you must give your body what it needs to perform. If you don’t, you will end up tired, weak, and prone to frustration because you won’t have the energy or strength to work out. The better you fuel your body, the better it will serve you in your pursuit of fitness and health.