As you likely already know, nutrition plays a massive role in your overall health. Not only do vital vitamins and nutrients help support your body’s functions, but it helps your body recover from exercise.
Proper nutrition provides fuel for your workout — for example, if you are exercising with just a candy bar and a soda in your stomach, there is virtually no way your stamina will last. Your stomach needs to be aptly filled with nutritious foods for the energy that you burn during such strenuous activity (or filled afterward).
Today we are going to be going over how food plays a crucial role in your fitness plan and how the lack thereof can affect your body. If you have any further questions or are ready to get started on a fitness and nutrition plan for yourself, reach out to our team at NJ Fitness Factory today. We are located in Bloomfield and are in close proximity to Belleview, Cedar Grove, Essex Falls, South and West Orange, and Verona.
What Food Does for Your Body
The nutrients that are in nutritious foods enable the cells in our bodies to perform their necessary functions. These nutrients are essential for the growth, development, and maintenance of the body. When we say “essential,” we mean that if these nutrients are not present in your diet, aspects of function and therefore overall human health decline. When we are not eating enough nutrients for our body’s needs dictated by cell activity, metabolic processes slow down (and can even stop).
Food Is Our Medicine
Nutrient-dense foods, also known as superfoods, include lean proteins, fats, and healthy carbohydrates that are essential to our health. These foods have a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are shown to reduce inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation is said to be the leading cause of many diseases, meaning eating superfoods can help prevent these diseases from occurring. A great example of this is how the antioxidants in vegetables and leafy greens help protect our cells from potential free radical damage.
How Certain Foods Affect Your Fitness Plan
How you supply your body with nutrients before, after, and during the recovery period between workouts can have a massive impact on the overall quality of your sessions and, in turn, affect your fitness goals. In some cases, eating nutrient-dense foods during an exercise session can also improve your results.
Lean protein serves several different functions related to exercise. As the predominant component of muscle tissue, protein helps to build new muscle fibers and repair tissues that have been damaged during your workout. By getting enough protein in your diet, you are able to increase your body’s lean muscle mass that can, over time, boost your physical performance during subsequent workouts. Consuming protein that contains branched-chain amino acids can also help promote muscle recovery so that you are able to work out again sooner. Some common foods that have branched-chain amino acids include eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes, but there are also many supplements on the market that you can incorporate into your diet.
Carbohydrates often get a bad wrap, but they are essential for fueling your body with the energy it needs to function and perform work during a workout. The carbohydrates you eat before you exercise not only burn as fuel but also accumulate in your muscles and liver as glycogen. During exercise, your muscles turn to this storage to help them keep going. Imagine your body and muscles trying to work hard without having the fuel it needs to perform? Get ready to feel fatigued real quick.
Carbohydrates are also important after you exercise because of the fact that physical activity depletes your glycogen stores. Replenishing these stores during or following a workout helps with speeding up recovery time in preparation for your next workout. Just try your best to stick with complex carbohydrates over simple carbs like sugar, which we will dive deeper into in a future blog post.
Healthy fats, including those found in olive oil, sunflower seeds, and salmon (among others), help to maintain proper brain function, decrease inflammation, and may also help to reduce symptoms of depression, dementia, arthritis, and even cancer. These fats contain a nutrient known as Omega-3, which are fatty acids that our body can’t produce naturally but also can help provide energy, support cell growth, and protect our organs.
Vitamins and Minerals
Another important part of our diet is vitamins and minerals, as these are involved in many of our body’s functions that come into play whether we are exercising or not, such as energy production and muscle contraction. When we lack any of these nutrients, it can greatly affect our ability to work out as we might like to.
Water is hands-down one of the most critical components in exercise. Maintaining proper hydration involves replacing the fluids we lose through heavy breathing and sweating, keeps our heart rate from climbing too high, and helps to regulate our body temperature. If we are not properly hydrated during exercise, our core temperature and heart rate can become dangerously high, we become more fatigued than usual, and our body’s functions may even begin to slow down.
As you can see, the foods we eat and the water we drink has a massive effect on not only our workouts but also on our body in general. We hope that this helps serve as a reminder to get the nutrients you need on a daily basis, and if you have any further questions or would like more insight and information regarding your own nutrition, reach out to our team at NJ Fitness Factory in Bloomfield today! Our nutritionists have the resources and expertise to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.