While we’ve talked a bit about fitness and starting fitness at home, today I want to talk about nutrition and why it’s important. March is National Nutrition month so I think this is the perfect time to talk about 3 sources of fitness fuel. But don’t just think of this as fitness fuel- think of this as every day life fuel. We want to put the optimal foods into our bodies to keep us going throughout the day. There is much discussion today about basic nutrition. This is because there is an obesity epidemic on the rise, not just in the United States, but around the world. People are gaining weight for a number of reasons, including less time exercising and poorer eating habits. The poorer eating habits exemplify a lack of basic nutrition. Many people aren’t even aware of what exactly makes up basic nutrition.
Basic nutrition involves drinking plenty of water and eating right. Water is essential because the human body is made up of between 45% to 75% of water by weight. In newborns, the amount of weight made up by water can be as high as 75%. In a study composed of men and women of all ages, the adult human body averaged 65% water. Another reason why people must drink water regularly is because they cannot store water; thus, it must be replenished regularly.
Our health, both mental and physical, greatly depends on the choices we make in our diet. There are three main food types – protein, carbohydrates, and fat. All have their benefits, in some way or another, in keeping us going throughout the day. Nutrition also plays a huge role in the results you’ll obtain with your workouts. If your body isn’t getting the proper nutrients to support the type of exercise you do, you will fail to see the type of results you are expecting, and that can be disappointing. So set yourself up for success by putting the kinds of things into your body that will optimize your results when you work out.
First on the list is protein. Protein comes in two forms – animal protein and vegetable protein. Animal protein comes from meat (beef, pork, etc.), poultry, fish, game animals and eggs. The whey in milk is actually the highest-quality protein there is, followed closely by eggs and beef.
While whey is a very high-quality protein, it is also quickly digested, so consuming protein in this form will not keep you feeling full for very long. Beef and other meats, on the other hand, take longer for our bodies to digest and will help stave off hunger which is important if you’re trying to lose weight.
Vegetable protein comes in the form of beans and legumes, tofu, and some dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach. Corn and potatoes also contain protein, but in much smaller amounts than their animal counterparts. For example, one-half cup of ground beef has approximately 15 grams of protein compared to approximately five grams in a medium russet potato.
The amino acids of proteins from any source help build strong muscles, bones and teeth, and the iron in protein helps to carry oxygen through your bloodstream. This is likely why those with an iron deficiency have a sallow complexion, they simply aren’t receiving enough oxygen to the skin’s surface.
Proteins are extremely important as they support muscle development. Every time you work out and tax your muscles, microscopic tears are the result. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as this is what makes your muscles actually grow bigger and stronger. But in order to mend these micro-tears, your body needs amino acids, and those amino acids come directly from protein sources.
Next on the list are carbohydrates. There are two types of carbohydrates (or carbs, as they are also called) simple and complex.
Simple carbs are derived from those substances our bodies don’t need much of – sugar, white flour, pasta, bread and rice. Some fruits and vegetables are also considered simple carbs as they contain fructose, which is a fruit sugar that our bodies respond to in the same way it responds to simple sugars.
Complex carbohydrates consist of foods that stay in your digestive system longer, such as rolled (not instant) oats, brown rice, and lentils.
The Glycemic Index ranks carbohydrate sources depending on their ability to raise the blood glucose level after eating. Simple carbs have a higher number on the Index, and complex carbs have a lower number. A slow, steady rise in your blood glucose level is better for your metabolism, helps you to stay full longer, and also helps to avoid a “sugar crash” that you typically experience after consuming a lot of simple carbs.
Though it tends to get a bad rap, fat is a necessary and vital part of every single cell in our bodies. From your brain to your toenails, your body needs fat. And contrary to popular belief, you do not get fat from eating fat.
Choose unsaturated fats in the form of lean meats, poultry, and cold-water fish, and you’ll be consuming all the proper fats for proper organ function, healthy skin, nails and hair, and vitamin absorption.
Don’t skip the good fats despite what you hear!
When you make sure that you get all three of these main food groups every day, you’ll be fueling your workouts the right way, and you’ll see the results you want faster. Your body will feel and perform better, and you’ll be more apt to be consistent with your workouts.
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