Care and Feeding of your Biological Machine

The road to good health is paved with a combination of good nutrition and physical exercise. Ideally a variety of different workouts combining sport along with a range of other activities that are fun will keep you motivated.

Consistency is also important; with poor weather sometimes making it difficult to exercise outdoors. Going to a commercial gym or setting one up at home can be achieved economically by purchasing from the range of cheap foldable exercise bikes and bargain treadmills that are available in the marketplace.

Nutritional Needs for Healthy Fitness.

It is probably not a surprise to you that the amount and type of exercise you perform will directly affect your nutritional needs. The type of foods consumed, how much and when will have a direct effect on the outcome of any fitness program.

Fitness and health are directly related to nutrition and you cannot have one without the other. It is common knowledge that diet and exercise are the key components to a healthy body, but is hasn’t been until recently that the nutritional requirements were available to aid various exercise programs.

Before taking on a fitness regimen you must first consider your nutritional needs beginning with the kinds of food that will work to your benefit. You will need to look into:

• Need for Carbohydrates
• Need for protein
• Need for fat
• Need for hydration
• Establishing the right balance

Understanding you body’s energy needs.

It should go without saying that active people will need more calories in their daily activities than those with a more sedentary lifestyle. But it is important to consider the type of activities as well as the source of those calories to meet their daily energy needs. Exercising for fitness and not adjusting your caloric intake will cause your body to use the energy for the exercise alone with nothing left over to help build muscles.

A Better fuel mixture helps your engine run better.

Your body receives energy from a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. How long your exercise routine lasts will determine how much fuel you need beyond the amount required to maintain your energy level for normal activity.

As the duration of your activities increases, the amount of fuel you will need will also increase. For example, if your exercise increases from one hour to two hours, you will deplete your blood glycogen and your body will begin to depend on muscle protein & stored body-fat.

A 30-year-old male weighing 160 pounds (68 kilograms) with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 will require between 2,900 and 3,400 calories a day. A female, 30-years-old and weighing 150 pounds will need between 2,400 and 2,800 calories daily, just to maintain their body weight and muscle mass at its current level.

The amount of carbohydrates you need will depend on the intensity level of your exercise program. For active people, 5-7 grams of carbohydrates are needed for every kilogram of body weight for moderate exercise.

High endurance or high intensity exercises will require 7-12 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. Research shows that about 50 percent of your body’s energy should come from carbohydrates.

Protein needs increases with activity.

Most believe that in order to increase muscle mass and repair damaged muscles, additional protein is needed. How much protein that will be needed is dependent on the type of exercise program being undertaken?

The latest health information suggests that protein should account for between 10 and 35 percent of the body’s energy, which would equate to less than one gram of protein for each kilogram of body weight.

Active people will need about 1.5 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight, which will provide about 15 percent of their total fuel.

Not all fat is bad.

Fat has been given a bad rap in recent years as the focus has gone to more healthy living and exercise. The reality is that fat should provide between 20 and 35 percent of the body’s total energy needs. In addition to providing energy, it helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as E, A and D. It is more the type of fat consumed that can be a problem.

High saturated fats in a regular diet can lead to many different health problems and will not necessarily be converted to fuel even during high intensity workouts. While some researchers have indicated that high fat diets can provide an increase in fuel levels for exceptionally active people, there is no solid evidence to support this theory.

Fluid intake is necessary for an active lifestyle.

It has been well-documented that maintaining hydration during exercise is absolutely necessary. Even in cold weather, high levels of activity without adequate hydration can have life-threatening consequences. In fact those that participate in high levels of activity in extreme conditions such as high heat, cold and even at high altitudes need to take appropriate steps to remain hydrated.

However, it isn’t just the need to carry that bottle of water into the gym or when on an exercise run as your body needs to have the proper balance of water and electrolytes. Regardless if age, if you are embarking on an exercise program, you need to be well hydrated before the activity begins, remain hydrated during the activity and be rehydrated at the end of the session.

Sport drinks that contain both water and electrolytes are the most commonly recommended source of hydration.

Knowing what types of foods to eat and what to drink and when and how it relates to your level of activity can help you determine your nutritional needs based on your health and fitness goals. There are hundreds of supplements on the market that promise to help with just about any fitness needs, but researchers urge caution in their use.

If you are going to use them, use them as they are intended…to supplement a balanced diet that meets your activity level.

Peter Markovic

A copywriter who is passionate about health and fitness.

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