Eating for fitness
When it comes to working out, you might think that a solid exercise routine is all you need. It’s important to know what you’re training and why but it’s also important to fuel your body to improve your performance during your session and to help your body recover afterwards.
We caught up with Rory who’s a head of exercise experience at Virgin Active to find out just how important eating is for improving your fitness.
What happens to our bodies when we work out?
When we work out, we exercise in 2 ways: aerobically or anaerobically.
Aerobic workouts are typically longer than 1 minute and allow your body to produce energy with oxygen, for example running. On the other hand, anaerobic workouts are done at a higher intensity and the body produces energy without using oxygen. Strength training is an example of anaerobic exercise.
Having a brief understanding of these energy systems will allow you to decide on the food that you are going to eat before, during and after your workout. Depending on your session intensity and duration, you’ll need to fuel your body differently.
What should you be eating?
There are three main nutrients, or macronutrients, that the body depends on for fuel before, during and after a workout. These are carbohydrates, fat and protein.
Carbohydrates are good for energy in both aerobic and anaerobic workouts. Dietary fat helps with recovery and energy during long, low intensity aerobic sessions and protein aids recovery for both.
Why are carbohydrates important?
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source. Consuming a carbohydrate-based meal (porridge with honey) or snack (banana or oat bar) before your important training sessions will ensure that your body has a sufficient supply for the task at hand.
Depending on the demands of your training programme the amount of carbohydrates you should consume per day for training and recovery will vary. Carbohydrates also play a significant role in recovery which is why it is important to ensure that your body has an appropriate amount for the training program that you are following.
How does the body use fat?
What about protein?
If you follow these tips for eating for fitness, you should see your stamina and endurance increase. You’ll also feel more rested when you start your next workout.