EATING FOR EXERCISE

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As some of you already know, there are a variety of ways the body “feeds” itself. Before exercising, during the exercise and afterwards for example, the body prepares itself differently. Additionaly, each person is different; because of the genetic composition, how physically healthy and active they are and also because of what they eat.

Looking at this, it is obvious that the simplest and fastest thing to change in your lifestyle if you want to become more physically active or energetic is changing the foods you consume. There are many aspects which can be taken into account when preparing food for specific types of exercises. I don’t know enough to go into great detail about it, however, these are a few basic things you should start to think about when you are eating before, during or after exercising.

First of all, eating differs for the different types of intensity levels at which you exercise and this is different for each person given their fitness level. Thus, the body burns more fat when performing a moderate exercise than a high intensity exercise.

For the sake of this article, let’s seperate the intensity levels into 3 groups; light daily activities, moderate energy dispensing activities, and high energy vigorous exercise.

Here are some examples of each:

  • light daily activities; walking, cycling(for pleasure), housework/yardwork, active dancing, friendly moderate activity sports such as shooting a basketball, playing catch, dancing and so on.
  • Moderate activities; jogging, light weight training, stretching and intensive yoga, swimming, cycling(for sport), etc.
  • vigorous exercise; Running, competitive high activity sports, heavy weight training,

There are three other things to think about;

  1. As mentioned befored, depending on your fitness level, your body’s relation to activity will differ
  2. And secondly, it also depends on the amount of time you spend participating in the activity. The body uses different energy sources for the different intensity level and depending on the amount of time your exercising for. When your carbohydrate levels are depleted after a high intensity workout which requires quick, easily processable energy for example, the body will tap into your fat reserves which requires a bit more time and energy. Ideally, you prepare your body with the appropriate levels of carbs, proteins and fats for optimum performance.
  3. Finally, your overall diet is also important in physical activity, not only the food you eat the day of the exercise or right before or after.

The fuel which is used for most low to moderate level workouts or activies is fat. The higher the intensity level the more the body switches to Glucose which is mostly derived from carbs. Glycogen, which is the stored form of glucose is also an important source of energy. Those who are very active should eat a high percentage of healthy carbohydrates in order to store glycogen which will help the person perform long, arduous arcitivies.

For quick energy for activities under an hour, eating a diet of healthy simple carbohydrates will be very useful. The best source for these are fruit. if you’re going to play tennis for an hour, load on simple carbohydrates which will last for an hour to an hour and a half before you’ll need to start repleneshing your body.

For sports that last longer, combine healthy complex carbohydrates which will be absorbed slower by the body.

Here are percentage levels of what you should eat for the basic 3 levels of activity.

low intensity; 10% protein, 70% fat, 20% carbs

moderate intensity; 5% protein, 35% fat, 60% carbs

high intensity; 3% protein, 7% fat, and 90% carbs

Watch out, these three energy sources give you different amounts of calories(energy)

protein; 4 calories per gram

carbs; 4 calories per gram

fats; 9 calories per gram

One last thing that i will mention is that you should take into account the energy used for digesting the food you’re eating for maximum efficiency. Meat protein will take longer to breakdown and stress your body more than eating a vegetable or nut protein for example. Also, heavy meals which are high in bad fats or healthy fiber can slow down your body’s intake of nutrients which is a factor you might want to consider.

Think about ways to go about helping your body help you. Puree ingredients, drink smoothies and soups that can accelerate the energy intake.

Preparing yourself for a healthy exercise regiment is complex but also rather interesting. Keep notes when exercising to observe patterns. When things go badly, you might be able to find the reasons behind your lethargy for example. And don’t only eat healthy when you know you will be exercising, try improving your overall diet to better prepare your body and have it run more efficiently when called upon.

Finally, good luck, remember to properly hydrate yourself, and don’t over do it.

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