More and more people everyday, maybe yourself, join the nearest gym in order to exercise their bodies but... to boost your body for such activity you also need to introduce lifestyle changes like, for instance in the way you eat.
Could you imagine Mo Farah eating ‘fast-food’ just before a 5k run in the Olympics?
No way! Diet and exercise should go hand by hand! Diet, in fact, can help you get the best fitness and sports results, but you need to have your ‘5 A Day’ meaning to include five groups of food in every meal: starchy, vegetables, dairy, fruit and cereals, in the right proportion and balanced.
How to improve your diet then?
The English Institute of Sport recommends that everyone should aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet, whatever their activity level, as this will provide you with all the nutrients you need.
But if you are training once per day, five days a week, you need to start caring about feeding your body accordingly as you will use more energy than if you did little or none. If you are a healthy weight and don't want to lose body fat, you will need to eat more food each day to maintain your weight.
Balancing your diet!
To increase your energy intake and fuel your training sessions, eat more carbohydrate-rich foods, include sources of essential fats like oily fish or nuts, and you will also need enough protein-rich foods to help repair and build your muscles.
- Carbohydrates, including bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and cereals, are the most important fuel for muscles, and an essential energy source for the brain and central nervous system. Muscles and also liver store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. Low glycogen stored may result in poor performance and increase the risk of injury.
- Most people will be able to get enough protein from a healthy, varied diet. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods. Athletes need protein in greater amounts and at regular intervals throughout the day for muscle growth and repair.
The proportions of carbohydrate and protein required will vary, depending on the sport, so it's best to seek advice from a qualified professional on your individual requirements.
Timing meals and exercise is vital
Once you’ve eaten a meal or snack, allow between one and four hours to pass before you start exercising. Your body needs time to digest. The amount of time will depend on the amount of food you've eaten. If it's an average meal, eating around two to three hours before you exercise works well.
Good recovery is crucial to prevent a midweek slump in energy levels, and to aid muscle growth and repair. If you are training more than once a day and you have fewer than eight hours between sessions, aim to have a carbohydrate- and protein-rich food or drink within 30 to 60 minutes of finishing your first session.
Society evolves and diet does it too!
Going to the gym, long hours at work or eating out of home are modern habits that affect the way you eat for sure. Last updates in the traditional Mediterranean diet pyramid try to reflect the current lifestyle.
Still following the previous pattern - at the base, foods that should sustain the diet, and at the upper levels, foods to be eaten in moderate amounts - , now also includes social and cultural elements characteristic of the Mediterranean way of life.
It is not just about prioritizing some food groups from others, but also paying attention to the way of selecting, cooking and eating. It also reflects the composition and number of servings of main meals and the importance of drinking 1.5 to 2 litres of water daily.