Food for Fitness

By: Melissa Russo, Y Advance Program Director, Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor, and Sports Nutritionist           Posted on: 07.07.2016

What most people don’t realize, is that what you eat is 80% of the battle when aiming to improve your fitness levels.

So, you can take a bunch of intense classes to push your body but you must remember to fuel your body. That means the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber to help your body start to transform.

Understanding the relationship between food and fitness is key. Here’s a guide to help you understand how the two work together to give you the results you want.

Protein Packs a Punch

Lean proteins like chicken breast, fish and egg whites are easy to digest and readily available for your body to function properly. In order to achieve muscle mass, strength, and definition, you must eat the right amount of protein to support your fitness level and activity. Working out 4 times a week in classes that involve weight bearing exercises requires more protein to ensure your muscles are getting what they need to grow.

Did you know if you eat more than 30 grams of protein for women and 51 grams of protein for men that protein turns to waste!

Supplements are a safe and effective way to ensure that you are getting the right amount of high quality protein or amino acid, especially if you work out regularly. Protein bars and powders will help curb your appetite and help you refrain from eating “empty calories”. Here’s a cool fact about eggs: a whole egg contains the perfect blend of all the essential amino acids that your body needs.

The Truth about Carbs

Carbohydrates have become a “bad word” in the diet industry and maybe that’s true for simple carbs like sugar, soft drinks, candy, and white processed flours and starches. These will give you a quick energy, but will leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and hungry shortly after you eat. The good news is that in order to get stronger and function like a normal human YOU NEED CARBS! It’s how many and what KIND that make the difference.

Complex carbohydrates are the best form of carbs for your body to use. Foods like green vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grain cereals and breads are all good examples. Try a sweet potato – they’re low in calories (about 180) and jam packed with antioxidants, vitamin A, and blood sugar regulating nutrients. Eat one mid-morning and be ready for that noon time workout with energy that lasts! 

Facts about Fat

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a healthy fat and we all need it in our diet. It’s essential for brain function and energy. The best sources of healthy fats are avocado, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts like almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like Salmon. So how much fat is enough? The amount of fat ranges from 20-35% of your daily caloric intake depending on your goals.

Once you learn your body and how to keep it performing at its best, you’ll feel better mentally and physically, live healthier and feel great! I wish you much success in achieving your health and wellness goals, and the Y is always here to help you!

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