What are the best foods for fitness?
Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are the body's favourite fuel, and choosing a carbohydrate-rich balanced diet will help you to stay active for longer, train harder, feel less tired after exercise, reduce your risk of injury and stay fitter.
There are three simple rules
- Eat and enjoy a wide variety of foods
- Eat a high-carbohydrate diet
- Carbohydrate (from starches and sugars) is the most vital fuel for working muscles.
- The body can store limited amounts of carbohydrate in the liver and muscle as glycogen.
- Every time you exercise, glycogen stores decrease.
- Base meals and snacks on carbohydrate-rich foods (breads, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes).
- To avoid fatigue and optimise performance at your next activity/training session:
- have a carbohydrate-rich snack (and a drink) around 2 hours before you exercise — e.g. cereal, fruit, fruit scone or bun, dried apricots, fruit yogurt, milk-based drinks, wholegrain toast or sandwich;
- replenish stores with high-carbohydrate eating starting straight after exercise (start within 30—60 minutes) — either your next meal or choose a quick-release carbohydrate snack, e.g. breakfast cereals, bananas, bread, scones, jelly beans, cereal bars, juice or sports drinks.
- Choose and time food or fluid intake to suit your exercise patterns. The main thing is to eat a healthy, high-carbohydrate diet overall, so food choices need to be practical, enjoyable, convenient and eaten! Seek personalised advice from an accredited sports dietician.
- Drink enough fluids
- Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue. By the time you feel thirsty you are already a bit dehydrated, so drink before you feel thirsty.
- Drink before, during and straight after exercise/training, as fluid losses increase during exercise. Water is fine unless you are training for an hour or more, when an isotonic sports drink is a good choice.
- If your urine is frequently dark, drink more. Aim for clear-ish urine in copious amounts.
Page created on December 21st, 2009
Page updated on January 16th, 2010