How many of us can honestly put hand on heart and say that we’re as fit as we could possibly be and are very happy with how we look and feel in our clothes. The answer is probably not many! Getting into shape and, more importantly, staying in shape takes real determination and a commitment that not everyone has. However if you’ve decided it’s time to get off the couch and turn that slightly soft body into something a bit more honed and chiselled then it’s never too late to do it.
You may decide that a half hour run three times a week is enough to help you feel healthier and more energetic. On the other hand, you may decide to commit to a more gruelling regime and perhaps start training for a marathon or an iron man competition. If this is the case then understanding sports nutrition will be very important in ensuring your success. Think of your body like a racing car – if you don’t put the right fuel into it, you’re not going to get the performance you were hoping for.
In order to really understand how to fuel up for some tough training, you’re going to have to go ‘back to school’ so to speak and start learning about the composition of food and what types of food provide the energy and nutrients you need. Here is some introductory information to get your ‘lessons’ off to a good start:
If you’re planning to follow a weights or body building regime then protein rich foods will become an essential part of your diet. Protein helps build new muscle tissue and repair tissues that have been torn in training and if you’re not eating enough on a daily basis those pecs are not going to grow as quickly as you’d like. Protein is found in foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products and nuts, with red meat a particularly rich source.
If long distance running is more your cup of tea then it will be important to get plenty of slow release carbohydrates into your diet. This will give you the energy you need to push yourself for just one more mile and increase your runs week by week. Brown bread, brown rice and pasta are excellent sources of slow release carbohydrate, which means they release energy slowly throughout the day rather than providing you with an energy spike which then leads to a slump afterwards. This is what happens if you load up on ‘bad’ carbs like cakes and biscuits, so you should really say goodbye to the treats until you’ve crossed the finish line.
Remember, it’s good to push yourself but you also need to know your limits. The last thing you want is to get injured just as you’re starting to enjoy your training.