Workout & Diet FAQ

photo-by-imagerymajestic

photo-by-imagerymajestic

What is the ideal diet for someone who works out frequently?

You must balance the right amount of energy, vitamins, minerals, and protein. It is crucial that you drink loads of water. If you are thinking of taking up competitive sports, talk to a nutritionist who can create a diet plan tailored to your needs specifically.

Are the nutritional needs of athletes different from those of normal people?

Based on the intensity of training frequently, your calorie and fluid intake will differ from the next person.  The extra calorie intake must be designed to help you meet the appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals

What are the dietary guidelines that I should follow if I exercise frequently?

It is recommended that up to 60% of your calorie intake must come from carbohydrates. Fat should be limited to 30%. The remaining 10% should be protein. The exact percentages will depend on your body type and the sport you are involved in.

How many calories do I need a day?

It all depends on your age, size, gender, and training program. A 55 kg gymnast requires much fewer calories than a 200 kg judo practitioner. There are many free apps available that can help you monitor your daily calorie intake. Keeping within your ideal competitive weight range means that you are neither exceeding nor falling short of your daily calorie needs.

Which replaces fluids more efficiently – water or sports drinks?

It is a known fact that up to 70% of our body weight is water. So staying properly hydrated is vital to our health especially during and after rigorous exercising. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your workout is sufficient to get you re-hydrated.

However, if you are involved in strenuous exercising for 90 minutes or more than you will definitely benefit from the carbohydrates provided by sport drinks. Read the label of the sport drink you buy and make sure that it contains 15-18 grams of carbohydrate in every 8 ounces of fluid. Anything higher than that and your body might delay the absorption of water and may cause dehydration, cramps, nausea, or diarrhea.

What are electrolytes and why are they important?

Electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, are nutrients that affect our body’s fluid balance and are necessary for our nerves and muscles to function.  Only 1% of our sweat is made up of electrolytes and the other 99% is water.

All sports drinks have added electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium). Recently many experts have been talking about coconut water as an alternative source for electrolytes. It is important to note that coconut water is low in carbohydrates and sodium and rich in potassium, which may not be ideal for sports practitioners during long and strenuous workout sessions.

What do muscles use for energy during exercise?

During physical activity the body uses a combination of fat and carbohydrate as energy sources. The intensity and duration of your workout determines the type of fuel your body burns. For short-term high-intensity activities like sprinting, you will burn more carbohydrates for energy. During low-intensity exercises like walking, you will burn more fat for energy.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are basically sugar and starches found in various foods such as bread, cereals, fruits, vegetables, pasta, milk, honey, syrups, and table sugar. Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for your body. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose that your blood carries to cells to be used for energy. Your body does not differentiate between glucose from starches and glucose from sugars. Glucose from either source provides energy for working muscles.

Should I eat a lot of carbohydrates?

During physical activity your muscles need energy to perform. When exercising or competing you need even more fuel for your muscle to perform. Carbohydrates create glycogen which is a source of energy for working muscles.  Not consuming enough carbohydrates will result in depleted amounts of glycogen which subsequently results in fatigue.

When and what should I eat before I compete?

Your performance will depend on what you eat during the days and weeks leading up to an event.  Make sure you have a well-balanced and carbohydrate-rich diet in order to stock up on glycogen. Eat 2 to 4 hours before the start of the event. This will help you prevent hunger and provide hydration and additional energy needed to compete. Have a banana right before the event. The high level of potassium in the banana increases alertness and may help you calm down if you are nervous.

Will eating sugary food before I compete hurt my performance?

Once upon a time, eating food packed with sugar before exercising or competing was considered almost sinful. This was based on the belief that it could hurt performance by causing a drop in blood glucose levels. Now we know that consuming sugar up to 30 minutes before an event will not hurt your performance.

Should I take extra vitamins and minerals?

A balanced meal every day is sufficient to give you all the vitamins and minerals you need. Supplements are needed only in special situations. You may use supplements on the days you fall short of a balanced meal.Vegan and vegetarian athletes who avoid an entire group of foods may need a supplement to make up for the vitamins and minerals they are missing out on.

Another group of people who may need supplements are athletes who frequently cut back on calories, especially below the 1,800 calorie level. Athletes who fall under this group risk inadequate vitamin and mineral intake. They may also not be getting enough carbohydrates. You may want to read this before you start taking supplements.

Do I need extra protein to build muscle mass?

If you participate in strength-training or power sports, you might be tempted to eat extra protein or use protein supplements in order to gain muscle weight. You do not really need to do so if you work hard and consume enough calories. A balanced diet offers more than sufficient protein. All you need is 1.0 and 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Has your question not been answered?

Feel free to leave your question in the comment section below.

2 thoughts on “Workout & Diet FAQ

  1. What diet to you recommend for people who work and live in extreme heat? I do habitat restoration work and garden out in the Mojave Desert. I took the day off today to stay inside because I feel like my body is depleted and normal eating and hydrating isn’t replenishing my energy. Sports drinks are not an option for me and my cardiologist told me “no white stuff”. Your suggestions?

    • Drink loads of water; eat fruits that are full of water and easy to get in hot countries; watermelons are a good example. Stay away from salty foods.

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