Remember – the formula is training PLUS nutrition. When looking for that extra something when it comes to your athletic training and fitness program, do not overlook the nutrition portion of the equation. Too many times individuals looking to improve athletically or take the next step in their fitness program they tend to, if not overlook, at least not fully grasp the importance of nutrition in your overall efforts. It is easy to get caught up with weight room routines, sport specific workouts, how many miles you are getting in on your runs and so forth. The nutrition portions, for some, become an added feature rather than a key component to your overall training program.
If your diet is not up to par to begin with, you are already starting from behind. A proper diet works hand in hand with your training. If you are throwing down a heavy carb diet regularly along with sugars you will tend to burn out quicker than you should when it comes to your workouts. Like they told us in elementary school, a good mix of healthy grains, vegetables, fruits and protein is what you need to strive for in your nutritional mix.
That is an overall picture. Let’s look at three different types of nutritional additions to see if it makes any sense to pay attention to them.
Vitamins play an important role in our nutritional program. Vitamins, per the trusty dictionary, are:
any of a group of organic substances essential in small quantities to normal metabolism, found in minute amounts in natural foodstuffs or sometimes produced synthetically: deficiencies of vitamins produce specific disorders.
In other words, they’re important; not only for training purposes but simply for everyday functions. Where they come into play as it relates to your workout and performance enhancement are in a number of areas. Vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, and B6 help with energy metabolism and muscle contraction. Vitamin D helps with bone metabolism. Vitamin B6 and ‘C’, ‘A’, and ‘E’ also help boost your immune system. Vitamins A and ‘E’ act as an antioxidant, as well. Ideally you should be receiving these vitamins through normal diet. However, if you find that you are not, you might want to get them through an all-natural multivitamin and mineral.
2) Sports Drinks
There are times where you feel a little sluggish during your training sessions. It happens to all of us, from top athletes to the local gym folks. You could use a little boost to get you through your workout. It is tempting to head for the vending machine and grab a little help in the form of a caffeine filled sports beverage. But, is it really worth it?
These beverages can come with some adverse reactions, such as increased heart rate, headaches and sleep deprivation after use. Studies have also shown that they really do not do much to help you along with your workout. Oh, there might be psychological effects as part of this, which may translate into something like “I just drank some great up tempo drink so I should feel energized”. That type of thing might happen.
On top of that many of the drinks are filled with sugars, further diluting the myth that these drinks do anything for you as it relates to your training. None of these types of drinks do anything to increase your exercise capability.
However, there are some on the market that can make sense for you. Choose these carefully, however. The amount and variety (sodium content, carb content, protein content included) are numerous even among the same brand. Depending on your needs with your training, you may need to consult with a nutritionist to see what type might be best for the training that you are doing.
Mom always said to eat your vegetables. Well, she wasn’t just giving you a hard time. She was giving you the “straight skinny.” Want to know something that is really kind of scary? Americans eat French fries, right? Well, did you know that the French fry is the most eaten vegetable in America? I’ll go one better. Ketchup is the most consumed “fruit”. Now, I guess you can conceivably see where an order of fries is considered a vegetable, giving that they’re made from potatoes. But, most of us wouldn’t think of ketchup as a fruit, normally, even though it technically is. That’s crazy eating. However, that is not that hard to believe when you keep hearing how the obesity rate in this country continues to climb.
Anyhow, we need to change things up, obviously. But how? Become an artist with the vegetable aisle at your local grocery. That’s how. What do I mean? What I am saying is studies have shown that not only do you need to eat your vegetables but that you need to include a variety. Each vegetable has its own color. Become the Picasso of the vegetable palette. Start including a variety of colors in your diet. The variety has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits. How does help in your training efforts, you ask? Well, it can help in reducing the amount of time it takes to recover from a workout or from an injury, as well. These can also fight sickness, keeping you in your training and not ill at home.
What color is your favorite? Beta-carotene has eye and skin health benefits. Beta-carotene can be found in orange colored vegetables like mangoes, carrots, and winter squash.
Anthocyanins (yea, you know I was going to throw this one out. It’s on everyone’s list…) helps the heart, brain and eyes. This can be found in a variety of fruits: purple/red grapes, red apples, blackberries, blueberries, plums, prunes, red pear, strawberries, cherries, and cranberries. It can also be found in eggplant and cabbage. Lycopene, which can reduce the risk of cancer, can be found in tomato, pink grapefruit, watermelon and guava.
There are enough colors of vegetables and fruits to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters in these categories. Use the colors to your benefit.
Don’t simply utilize nutrition as an afterthought to your program. Employ nutrition as an integral part of your efforts and you will progress your overall training to even higher levels.
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