Eating a healthy diet is sufficient for an active lifestyle. But, exercising makes the body use more energy and unless you are trying to lose weight, you need to supply your body with more food to balance the extra energy needed by your body. Fulfilling your dietary needs for exercise or any activity can prove advantageous to you:
Carbohydrates for Exercise
Carbohydrates equate to energy. Once digestion, these carbs are broken down into glucose to provide the body with energy. Carbs are an indispensable fuel for exercise and sports. Our body stores carbohydrates in the muscles and liver as glycogen and utilize this available fuel as a source of energy during physical activity. This available glycogen stores are limited and hence, you need to be stored with fuel right at the start of any exercise. If not, you are bound to feel tired or nauseated unable to give your best. This cannot be achieved in one shot and you need to regularly consume carbs to keep your energy stored filled and readily available. Choose carbohydrates perfectly such that they help you perform your activity and also help in recovery.
The Good Ones
Immediately don’t transform yourself into the wonderland of fried potato chips, cookies or pastries-these are the unhealthy/bad carbs and we are never going to even talk about them here. Starchy foods are an important carbohydrate source and so are wholegrain varieties that provide our body with the required fiber, vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and folate.
Good carbohydrate choices include bread, breakfast cereal, rice, pasta, starchy veggies such as potatoes (with skin), beans and pulses too. Even fruits and milk are good sources of carbs as they contain sugar that helps to give energy to our body. Always remember that starchy foods should occupy one-thirds of your plate of foods as they are high in fiber, slow to release energy, take a longer time to digest and hence, suitable to be included in every meal.
Other carb sources such as biscuits, sweets, cakes and soft drinks must be avoided as they are high in sugars and might give you instant energy, but the energy disappears as fast as it had appeared. They can also lead to dental problems which can affect your body health (oral health is indicative of overall body health).
A sports athlete needs more carbs than a normal person for the reasons mentioned above. The needs differ depending on the exercise they perform and the duration of the exercise. The table below indicates the needs of an athlete in general and these needs might vary according to their energy needs and the exercise they are involved in:
Just to fill these requirements, don’t overload or stud yourself with all the carbs possible in one meal. Plan your total carb intake over breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.