Many people are commencing their New Year's goal of exercising more. This is great for overall health and wellbeing however have you thought about what nutritional requirements are necessary to prevent injury, post exercise fatigue and optimise muscle repair?
When we exercise, we are exerting our body and pushing it to it's extremes whether it be through growing muscle, enhancing lung capacity, strengthening connective tissue and increased cardiovascular function. Our muscles form tiny tears which in turn causes them to heal and grow bigger and stronger. Our lungs have to increase in capacity, to allow our cells and tissues to obtain oxygen faster for energy production. Our heart has to pump blood faster to our tissues to support our increased demands.
These are all very positive things however if not supported by nutrition can lead to fatigue, prolonged muscle pain and injuries.
To support our body through its increased demands we need a wide range of nutrients:
1. Protein - protein is necessary for muscle building and building for all other cells. Dietary protein ingestion inhibits muscle breakdown and stimulates synthesis of muscle protein. It also promotes skeletal muscle response to exercise resulting in more effective muscle reconditioning. Protein requirements vary for gender and depending on how physical you are. As a general rule (exercise dependent), you need a 1g of protein in your diet for each kilogram of your body weight. For example, if you weight 70kg, you need 70g of protein daily.
2. Carbohydrates - carbohydrates are needed to fuel almost every type of activity. Having adequate carbohydrate stores extends the duration of physical activity and ability to train at optimal intensity. Depending on your physical activity intensity, carbohydrate intake varies from 3-12g/kg of body weight per day. There are more nutrient-dense carbohydrates such as vegetables, legumes, brown rice and whole grains that can provide these necessary requirements.
3. Water - water is necessary for cellular energy and to reduce fatigue. It is also vital for restoring levels lost during sweat. Ensuring you are hydrated before exercise is equally as important as restoring levels post exercise. Your water consumption should be your body weight in kg multiplied by 0.03 daily. If doing strenuous exercise, increase as necessary.
4. Electrolytes - electrolytes are equally as important during exercise due to loss in sweat (this is why your sweat tastes salty!). Ensuring to rebalance your electrolytes after vigorous exercise is vital. Instead of using processed beverages, you can make your own electrolyte drink - mix 3 cups of coconut water, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of fresh lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt and 2 tablespoons of raw honey together and consume. You can add more fresh water if too strong!
5. Multi coloured fruits and vegetables - a wide range of fruits and vegetables provide a range of nutrients and antioxidants needed to support overall health and provide building blocks for energy production.
Please be in touch if you would like more information in regards to optimising your nutrition to meet your exercise.