Picture your fitness like an old scale. On the one side you have exercise, and on the other side your nutrition. To maintain optimal physical fitness, the scale needs to remain balanced. This involves expending the right amount of energy for the nutrition you’ve put in. Too much food with too little exercise will cause weight gain, while too little nutrition and too much exercise will reduce muscle mass. Here’s the best nutrition advice for maintaining your physical fitness like a pro:
Nutrition guidelines for optimal fitness maintenance
Before, During & After Exercise
This healthy fitness guide from Canada.com offers advice on nutrition to maintain physical fitness levels at all ages. Here’s what to eat before, during and after exercise:
Just before exercise:
Never eat a full meal just before exercise. Stick to light snacks like fresh and dried fruits, and a few small carbohydrates like biscuits or crackers.
Try drinking at least a glass of water (250ml) every 15 – 20 minutes during exercise, and if you’re exercising for longer than an hour, consider supplementing your energy levels with a sports drink.
If you’re planning on exercising again within 24 hours, consider eating a carbohydrate-rich meal within 30 minutes after exercising.
Foods to Include in Your Diet
Here we’re looking at essential fitness-supporting foods to include in your nutrition plan while leading an active lifestyle:
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an excess of protein to maintain your physical fitness. While marathon runners and serious weight lifters will benefit from large amounts of protein in their diets, most people get enough protein just from eating their regular three meals a day.
Iron is essential to maintain fitness and keep muscles in good shape. Female runners are susceptible to low iron levels, as they consume less meat – on average – than men. Foods rich in iron include dried fruits, spinach, low-fat red meats and enriched cereals.
Studies have shown that regular exercise contributes to the production of harmful free-radicals that can damage cells and even DNA. By including antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C in their diets, exercisers can reverse this damage. Examples include strawberries, oranges, kiwi, olive oil & nuts.
By including this fatty acid in your diet, you can greatly reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. Be sure to supplement your nutrition with marine-sourced foods like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, trout, and herring.
General Nutrition Tips
These general nutrition tips are to ensure that you’re able to maintain physical fitness without reversing all your hard work:
- Never skip breakfast
The more you exercise to boost your fitness, the more important correct nutrition becomes. Be sure to eat something substantial for breakfast every day, so you have enough energy to perform effectively before and after exercise.
- Keep fresh fruit close
Let’s face it – everyone likes the odd snack. However, the type of snack you choose with either help you maintain your physical fitness, or destroy it. Choose fresh fruits as snacks when possible, and if you can’t get the fresh stuff – dried fruits and nuts are excellent alternatives.
- Prepare lunch in advance
Avoid the temptation of grabbing takeaways for lunch (we’ve all been there) by preparing healthy, nutritious lunches the night before. Not only will this save you money, but you’ll be able to make better nutrition choices for your future self!
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