Fitness means that you posses:
- body-composition within a particular range (not too much or too little fat or muscle),
- cardiovascular fitness (the ability to perform exercise that places stress on the cardiovascular system) ,
- muscular endurance (or muscular stamina), and
There are 2 categories of nutrition, they are macronutrients, meaning “large nutrients” (mainly fat, carbohydrates and protein) and micronutrients “meaning small nutrients” (mainly vitamins and minerals).
Macronutrients provide us with energy to fuel our metabolism as well as for exercise. They are also used to make up our body composition as too much or too little results in too much or too little stored fat.
Micronutrients do not provide us with energy but are used as part of chemical reactions that take place within our bodies. Deprivation of macronutrients over time prevents the body from functioning properly and can cause serious health problems and even death.
Good Fitness Nutrition
Now to connect the two! The first point of good fitness was body composition. This is quite easy to relate to your nutrition – you need to eat the right amount of food, the right types and at the right times to have the correct body composition. If you are at a point where you’re fitness is poor then you will need to alter your nutrition to alter your body fat and or muscle mass to create the body composition we associate with good fitness.
To achieve all the other points on the list you will have to embark on regular exercise. I’m not going to go in to exercise programmes in this article but I am going to talk about how this affects your nutritional needs. Your nutrition needs to be even better if you are going to provide your body with what it needs to adhere to a good exercise programme as well as not end up with incorrect body composition. If you compete within a particular sport then you can look at successful athletes in that sport to see what body composition they have. Try and look at someone that is the same gender, similar height and bone structure. Then ask these questions:
- How muscular are they?
- How much body fat do they have?
- Is there a particular muscle group that is disproportionately large or small e.g. large legs or arms for sports involving power or smaller arms or legs when stamina is required?
- How good is their stamina?
- Can they generate a lot of power?
To maintain your weight you should consume an amount of calories equal to your daily metabolism plus any extra calories burnt off through exercise. Here is an example of a metabolism calculator you can use to work out your metabolism.
If you want to lose body fat long term then it should be done slowly by eating less then you need. Eating 500 calories a day less will equal 1 lb a week. 1000 calories less will equal 2 lb weight loss a week. You shouldn’t really try and lose fat any faster than this. If you want to gain weight then add on 500 calories a day.
Now that you know how many calories you should be eating you need to know when to eat them and what to eat.
3 square meals a day is not how you should be consuming all these calories. That would leave long gaps between meals and it would mean you have to eat lots of calories at each sitting. This would cause peaks and drops in your blood sugar and you metabolism. It makes it a lot harder to manage your weight and to fuel your exercise.
For ideal fitness nutrition you should be eating the required calories spread out into at least 6 meals a day if not more. You can still make the main ones larger and the in between ones smaller for convenience but the more even the meals are the better.
All meals should contain protein, fat (healthy fats if possible) and carbs. The carbs should be mostly slow releasing carbohydrates that have a low GI. These types of carbs are usually within food that contains fibre such as oats and sweet potatoes. You should also include fibrous carbs (most veg) and fruit as sources of carbs. Here is a good list of proteins, fats and carbs (at the end of the page).
You should try and balance your meals so that your totally calories come from 50% carbs, 25% protein and 25% fat. Fat contains twice as many calories per gram as carbs so don’t forget to take this into account.
Fruit will be your main source of micronutrients but it may also be beneficial to supplement with a multi vitamin and then a vitamin C straight after intense exercise.
An example of a good meal would be:
Pilchards (in red sauce) with peas, sweet potatoes and a glass of pure orange juice. You have to work out the quantities depending on how many calories you need a day and how many meals you’re going to have each day.
A good breakfast would be oats with one or two whole eggs and a little bit of milk, cooked in the microwave. Use sweetener if you have a sweet tooth.
These are just examples but you should be able to put together lots of different combinations using the list I mentioned earlier.
I hope you found this article on fitness nutrition useful.
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