Though the details have changed over the decades, and our conceptions of food have evolved, no one can debate the connection between good health and proper nutrition. Lots of research has been done, and as physical fitness becomes more important to the masses, so do good eating habits. Everyone wants to know how nutrition helps performance, and what “foods for fitness” to choose for optimal results.
Basic Nutritional Guidelines
If you exercise on a regular basis, your daily foods for fitness diet should…
- Supply enough calories to get through the training, and not leave you dying afterwards
- Supply sufficient hydration
- Deliver enough necessary nutrients to fuel the body during and after exercise
- Maintain desirable body fat percentage and overall weight to allow proper performance
- Represent all food groups to ensure a balanced diet, which also encourages realistic adoption of healthy habits for the long term
- Encourage flexibility, strength-building, and tissue recovery during breaks, and between training days
What Foods for Fitness Should You Put in Your Body?
In general, an active person’s diet should comprise a wide assortment of foods. Most important are whole grains (in breads and cereals), fruits (lower sugar is preferred), vegetables (leafy greens), low-fat dairy products, and lean meats (poultry, fish, other low-fat cuts). If you choose properly and don’t feel like you’re torturing yourself, this diet of foods for fitness will enhance long term health benefits because you’ll be able to stick with it and establish healthy habits.
An active person’s diet (assuming you’re not an Olympic Athlete) isn’t drastically different from that recommended for everyone else. Basically, your caloric intake should come from:
- Carbohydrates: 55 to 60%
- Proteins: 13 to 16%
- Fat: below 30%
People who exercise vigorously for over an hour every day should increase the caloric energy they get from carbs to approximately 70%. Athletes should regulate the quantity of carbohydrates they take in for fuel and recovery, according to the intensity of their exercise. The preference for fats would be foods for fitness sources like avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and a lot less high-fat items like cookies, cakes, ice cream, potato chips and French fries.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Forgetting to drink or choosing the wrong beverages can lead to dehydration. Not only can this hinder your performances in the gym or arena, it can also land you in the hospital. Staying hydrated by ingesting enough water or electrolyte drinks before, during and after exercise is crucial. Hydration through drinking is especially important for exercise lasting over 60 minutes, or in warmer temperatures.
…regardless of your fitness level or how resilient you think you are, we’re all human. Keep in mind that:
- Proper nutrition will improve athletic performance.
- A proper diet of foods for fitness will supply an athlete’s nutritional needs during exertion, and deliver adequate protein for muscles to repair and grow afterward.
- Start with whole grain breads and cereals (rich in unrefined carbohydrates) as the centerpiece of the diet.
- Avoid dehydration at all costs with regular intake of clean water (or suitable substitute) to help your performance and escape serious damage to your health.
Now go get your game-face on!