Nutrition: Healthy Eating to Support Exercise

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1 Nutrition: Healthy Eating to Support Exercise Introduction One of the biggest problems facing the community today is the rising rate of obesity. Sadly, it is both children and adults that are being affected by the epidemic. This is largely due to our lifestyles which are increasingly sedentary and our over-reliance on convenient processed foods which provide little positive nutritional value. By enrolling in one of our courses at The Sports Village you have taken the first step to support a healthy lifestyle, but you may be unintentionally sabotaging your efforts or that of your children by not supplementing that lifestyle with a healthy and nutritious diet. Most people do not realise that proper nutrition is just as important as hard training to ensure optimal performance during exercise. A balanced diet containing a wide variety of unprocessed food ensures good health as well as higher energy and optimal performance in sport. A good diet should provide sufficient energy, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals. Food at its most basic level is fuel for the body. For best results, your diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, animal protein, dairy, grains, nuts and seeds. Macronutrients Macronutrients are the types of food our bodies require in large quantities. There are three types of macronutrients: Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat. Carbohydrates Carbohydrates are the body s preferred source of energy, and as such they should provide the majority of calories in your diet. There are two types of carbohydrates: - Simple carbohydrates (sugars) are a quick-digesting and often processed source of energy. They cause sudden increases and drops in blood sugar levels, which is not ideal from a performance- or energy-related point of view. Simple carbohydrates include fruit, chocolate, biscuits, soft drinks, cereal bars, and white bread, white rice and white pasta. They should only be consumed after training or during longduration exercise. - Complex carbohydrates (starches) have had little or no alternations made to them. They provide a gradual release of energy as well as valuable vitamins and minerals,

2 and can be eaten at any time. Complex carbohydrates include brown bread, brown rice, brown pasta, potato, beans and oatmeal. Fruits and vegetables are predominantly made up of low-calorie carbohydrates. They provide the largest variety of vitamins and minerals, and they allow nutrients from other foods to be absorbed. You should consume at least five serves of fruits and vegetables every day, and try to vary the types you are consuming as much as possible. Depending on your activity levels, 40 to 60 per cent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Protein Protein is responsible for the growth and repair of body tissue, therefore athletes require a higher amount due to the stress they place on their muscles. Protein is only used as an energy source when the body s carbohydrate stores are low. It is important to consume both proteins and carbohydrates regularly to ensure your body does not break down its muscle tissue for energy. There are two types of proteins. Complete proteins contain all eight essential amino acids and include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, soy and dairy, while incomplete proteins do not have all the amino acids and are foods such as cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Protein powder supplements are not essential but can be useful for those athletes who struggle to meet their recommended amount of protein. Approximately 20 to 30 per cent of your daily caloric intake should consist of proteins. Fat Many people incorrectly assume that fat is bad for us, but there are healthy kinds that are essential to protect our organs, regulate our body temperature and repair our body tissues. There are three types of fats. Monounsatured fats include olives, beef, nuts, seeds and avocados, while polyunsatured fats are oily fish, nuts and seeds. Saturated fats are the ones that should be restricted to less than 20 grams per day and come from natural sources where possible. They include foods such as butter, cheese, fat on meat, margarine, mayonnaise, chocolate, biscuits, crisps, cakes and ice cream. Excess food is stored in the body as fat, and is only used as an energy source when the body s carbohydrate stores are low. Fat is slow-digesting and should not be consumed immediately before or after training. Approximately 20 to 30 per cent of your daily caloric intake should consist of fats. Although fats are healthy, they are easy to overeat. One serve of fat is equivalent to one tablespoon of oil, one handful of nuts, half an avocado or two tablespoons of peanut butter. Aim for 3-5 serves of fat per day.

3 Macronutrients Carbohydrates Protein Fat Vitamins and Minerals Vitamins and minerals are organic chemical compounds found in food which are vital to our health. Our bodies cannot produce these vitamins and minerals, so we must consume them regularly through food particularly meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, nuts and beans. Provided your diet is varied and balanced, you should not have to take any vitamin or mineral supplements. Calories The amount of energy each macronutrient produces is called a calorie. Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per gram. Fat intake may be increased when athletes are struggling to meet the daily recommended intake of carbohydrates. The number of calories you should consume per day depends on a number of factors such as your resting metabolic rate (which is determined by age and gender primarily), activity level, genetic history, height and weight. Most people will need calories just to survive. It is important to remember that athletes will require higher levels of calories than the general population. This is because exercise burns additional calories roughly 500 per hour. If you re doing a lot of exercise, the total number of calories you need to consume will add up very quickly. Example Let s consider a 15 year old boy of a normal body weight who performs one hour of physical activity per day. To maintain his weight, he will need to consume approximately 3000 calories per day. The breakdown of those calories following the guidelines above: per cent from carbohydrates= calories from carbohydrates, or grams of carbohydrate (divided by 4).

4 20-30 per cent from protein = calories from protein, or grams of protein (divided by 4) per cent from fat= calories from fat, or grams of fat (divided by 9). Macronutrient (%) Net grams Total Calories Carbohydrate Protein Fat % 3000 Are you undereating? Many people are afraid to eat the amount of calories they should, for fear of weight gain. Not only can increasing calories help performance but it can often assist in fat loss. When you do not eat enough, your body thinks it is starving and it will hold on to all the food it is given as fat. This is why cutting calories extremely low does not work over the long term when it comes to weight loss. Meal Guidelines Generally speaking, you should aim for a palm-sized portion of protein, one fist-sized serving of carbohydrate and a finger-length serving of fat with each meal. It is important to eat regularly throughout the day. You should eat every two to three hours to allow better nutrient absorption and also keep your blood sugar level stable. Athletes will require a much larger amount of food in general and a different balance of each macronutrient group. Each person would be better served with an individualised template drawn up by a nutritionist. What to eat after physical activity Exercise damages your muscle cells. To enable recovery, you must consume a meal high in

5 protein and carbohydrate within an hour of exercise which may mean double the regular portion of protein and carbohydrates. A good choice of meal after training would be 2-3 eggs and 2-3 pieces of toast, one cup of oats/porridge with one scoop of protein powder mixed in, 200 grams of cooked pasta with 200 grams of meat sauce, 200 grams of steak with two mashed potatoes, a chicken stir fry with one cup of rice, or a cup of plain greek yoghurt with two pieces of fruit. Food and drinks such as cereal bars, Lucozade, fruit juice and biscuits may be quick and convenient, but they are not the best choice to fuel performance. They are very high in sugar and often contain more calories than what you would have expended during exercise. On days you don t exercise, you do not need to eat as much. Those who are training at a very high intensity (two hours or more, on most days of the week) still need to eat a large volume on rest days, as their bodies will need the fuel to recover. Hydration Two-thirds of our body weight is made up of water. Water is essential to normal body functioning and it allows the food we eat to be properly digested and absorbed. When you exercise, you sweat and lose water. A loss of just two per cent of your body weight will negatively affect performance by as much as 20 per cent. A sedentary person needs to drink about two litres of water per day. For every hour of exercise you do, you need to consume one additional litre. You should be drinking before, during and after exercise. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes including sodium, potassium and magnesium. However, they also contain sugar and are therefore unnecessary for all but the most active athletes. More information To book a consultation with our nutritionist, please phone The Sports Village is a sports centre which offers Sutton a developing legacy to encourage an active, healthy lifestyle for all ages and abilities. Facilities at the centre include tennis (22 courts), a gym and health club, fitness classes, gymnastics centre, dance classes, football academy, day nursery, soft play, physiotherapy, badminton, martial arts, birthday parties and more. The Sports Village is located in Rose Hill Park, Rose Hill, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 3HH.

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