Fitness Nutrition – The Nutrition Plan

Elvis Elvis

Fitness nutrition is key to energy management in the world of running. You need to keep the muscles properly fueled to perform to your best ability.

The Nutrition Plan

A well-devised fitness nutrition plan should comprise of all basic energy foods, in the right proportion. Experts normally suggest that an ideal diet for a runner should include 60% carbohydrates, 25% fats and the remaining 15%, proteins. However, it is important that you analyze your energy requirements against your own specific running goal. Depending on the personal need, you can then devise your own plan. Here we explain the main food categories and also provide your with some useful tips.

Fitness Nutrition   The Nutrition Plan

Food Groups

A) Carbohydrates and Carbo-Loading

Carbo-loading is a term used by runners to refer to carbohydrate loading or super compensation.

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body. Found largely in grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, dairy products, sugar and sweets, each gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories.

While digestion, these carbohydrates are converted into sugar by the body, from where it enters your bloodstream. Some extra sugar also gets stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen, which is the real source of energy.

However, the body can store only small amounts of glycogen at a time. If a runner or an athlete exercise or runs for longer durations, his stamina and performance might suffer due to lack of energy. This is where the need for carbo-loading arises.

The main sources of carbohydrates include:

• Pasta
• Rice
• Baked potatoes
• Lentils
• Muesli
• Baked beans

However, there are certain carbohydrate-rich foods, which are also high in fats and thus need to be avoided. These include the likes of lasagna, thin-crust pizza, croissants and granola.

B) Calcium

Calcium is the essential bone-building nutrient, highly crucial for the runners. Milk and dairy products are the main sources of calcium. A single cup of milk, a half cup of cottage cheese or low-fat yoghurt, each can provide you with as much as 280 mg of calcium. Other sources of calcium include:

• Dark, green leafy vegetables
• Calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice
• Fish
• Figs
• Tofu

C) Fluids

Hydration is a key element of good a good fitness nutrition program. Water makes up close to 60 percent of your bodyweight. Runners should aim to take fluids throughout the day, including a pint of water an hour before the run, and half a pint in every 30 minutes of the event.

Experts suggest that at least 5 liters of fluids should be consumed on the days when you run, and half the amount on other days.

D) Fruits and Vegetables

The overall nutrition value of fruits and vegetables is highly beneficial for runners. Experts suggest choosing darker varieties such as broccoli that contains a very high amount of iron.

Unlike refined white sugar, the fruit sugar brings along a vast range of health-protective nutrients including vitamin C, folate, potassium, fiber and phytochemicals. These nutrients help in post-run recovery and reduce risk of high blood pressure, cancer and constipation.

E) Proteins

Proteins build strength in your muscles and tendons, keeping these structures healthy. Each gram of proteins provides your body with another 4 calories. The main sources of proteins include:

• Meats
• Eggs
• Beans
• Nuts
• Yoghurt
• Turkey
• Chicken

F) Nutritional Supplements

Research indicates that almost 46% of runners and athletes use calcium supplements, known to increase the energy level and expedite recovery of the runners.

The most often used nutritional supplements include:

• Anabolic steroids
• Creatine
• Caffeine
• Iron

G) Other food items

Other energy food and snack items, which can be included in your fitness nutrition plan, include:

• Bananas
• Porridge
• Glucose drinks
• Cereal Bars
• Rice
• Lean meats

Basic Aspects

Apart from what you eat, it is important for you to pay close attention to the following three factors in your fitness nutrition plan:

a) Timing:

Experts suggest you should eat a bigger breakfast and lunch, followed by a smaller dinner. For instance, if you plan to go for a run directly after work, have a heavy breakfast, a medium sized lunch, including an energy-packed snack about ½ hour before your event. At the same time, a smaller dinner will help in the after-run recovery.

b) Frequency:

Ideally, if you run daily, you should eat after every 3-5 hours. Gaps of more than 3-4 hours between two meals/snacks can lead to drastic swings in the blood sugar level.

c) Quantity:

If you run for more than 15 miles per week, you should consume a minimum of 2000 calories a day. Similarly, for an individual who runs 25 miles per week, the consumption should be at least 2500 calories a day.

Tips for Healthier Cooking

Just follow a few set of guidelines for healthier cooking, which can make a vast difference in your health as a runner. Here we list the main amongst them: i) Avoid hydrogenated oils and fats
ii) Avoid overcooking as you tend to lose vital nutrients
iii) Use skim milk instead of whole milk
iv) Add fibrous ingredients such as oatmeal, wheat germ, Raisin Bran and Bran Flakes to muffins and other breakfast breads
v) Use a variety of herbs in your cooking
vi) Make marinades with juices and broth instead of using oil
vii) Grill or roast meat on a rack, allowing the fat to drip away
viii) Use non-fat sour cream, yoghurt or pureed low fat cottage cheese, instead of the conventional sour cream