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Why Is Nutrition Important When Exercise Fails

Published on Monday, April 27, 2009 | 7:14 pm

Exercising and proper nutrition go hand in hand for good health. If you do all kinds of workouts, 7 days a week, but feed your million dollar body with junk, don’t expect it to give you a good return on your exercise investment.

When exercising, there are three major nutrients that your body needs: Carbohydrates to power your workout, fat for recovery, and protein to build muscles. All three need to be in proper ratio to maximize your fitness.

When it comes to increasing your nutritional intake for optimal performance, start with the basics: macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fats, plus micronutrients related to optimal use of those macronutrients, such as the B vitamins and chromium. The more strenuously you exercise, the more you need additional antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium. This group of nutrients will help speed recovery from exercise.

As you stress your body with harder exercise, you may want to add nutrients that support the immune system and promote muscle repair and growth. These include vitamins C and E, protein, and carbohydrates, as well as fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6.

Carbohydrates are the power food for working out. Your muscles would rather use carbs than anything else because it burns carbs the quickest and most efficiently, and give you the energy you need with the least metabolic effort.

When is the best time to eat carbohydrates? There are two special times: 30 to 60 minutes before any strenuous workout lasting 45 minutes or longer and in the 30 to 60 minutes after any strenuous workout. Carbohydrates are also good for keeping the immune system strong, so don’t overlook this important time for refueling.

Protein is essential for muscle growth and maintenance. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)suggests that your daily caloric intake should be about 10-15% protein. This amount is good enough to support your day to day activities and prevent disease, but it’s not enough to support muscle growth. To increase muscle mass with exercising, it is recommended that you get 20-35% of your daily calories from lean, high-quality protein sources. (Check with your doctor if you have kidney problem).

The best source of proteins are complete proteins, containing all essential amino acids, and incomplete proteins. Supplemental protein products, particularly protein drinks, bars, and protein powders that combine hydrolyzed whey protein and isolated soy protein can be very beneficial in meeting your complete protein needs. You may find adding a scoop of protein powder to soups or smoothies a good whey to boost protein, especially between meals.

Not all fats are bad fat. Good fats are the mono-unsaturated fats and the omega3s and omega-6s (both polyunsaturated). Mono-unsaturated fats are less oxidative to healthy cells, inhibit the inflammatory response, allow blood vessels to dilate, and may even help suppress or control appetite. Olive oil, almond oil, high-oleic safflower oil, avocados, and certain nuts and seeds are good sources of mono-unsaturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish appear to reduce inflammation and support heart, brain, and neurological functions. They are especially important as your body recovers from strenuous exercise. As damaged cell walls are repaired, they use the available fatty acids in the process, replacing saturated fats, and cells work better with omega-3 in the cell-wall structure. Omega-6s are important for they help with stimulating necessary inflammation responses and with blood clotting and they are found in safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, and wheat germ oils.

The “bad fats” that you should avoid at all time are saturated and hydrogenated fats. They increase the bad cholesterol, stimulate the inflammation process, increase stickiness and blood clotting, and increase oxidative damage to cells. Saturated fats are found in meats (especially red and dark meats), cheese, butter, cream, whole milk, and chocolate. Hydrogenated fats are found in processed foods like cakes, cookies, and crackers.

Regular exercise alone is not enough. Eating right and the proper supplementation are equally important for a healthy lifestyle. Eating the right foods at the right time can have positive effects on body composition and overall health, which means more muscle and less body fat, stronger immune system.


About The Author: Nutrition is very important when you exercise: carbohydrates powers workouts, fats help recovery and protein builds muscle. You need all three and other micronutrients in proper ratio to maximize your exercise benefits. Visit

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