Far too often, people expect quick results, whether an exercise routine or diet to lose weight or gain muscle, or perhaps both. However, unfortunately, that’s not the way it works when leading an active lifestyle.
Nutrition plays a large role in leading an active and healthy lifestyle, and can even impact your fitness performance positively or negatively.
Adopting a healthy relationship with food and nutrition is key – allowing you to reap the performance benefits, feel your best, and reach new fitness peaks.
So, in this blog post, we will discuss how nutrition impacts your fitness performance.
What is nutrition?
Nutrition is the foods we eat on a daily basis. According to the World Health Organization, nutrition is a critical component of health and development. However, you likely already knew that.
When it comes to your choice of foods, especially regarding fitness performance, it’s not as simple as you might think.
For example, our bodies require certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to improve recovery, reduce swelling, and improve your performance in the gym on the running track or on the field.
A good rule of thumb is to eat a well-balanced diet containing plenty of protein, fatty acids and fish, white meat, and many fruits and vegetables.
If you have certain dietary requirements, then it’s always a good idea to introduce sports and health supplements.
Supplements can be a great way of making sure you receive the right nutrients and vitamins if you don’t eat certain foods, such as fish, meat, or dairy.
What is the importance of nutrition during exercise?
Eating the wrong foods or not enough food before exercise can result in less than adequate performance.
For example, trying to run a marathon without eating or drinking is a recipe for disaster – you’ll likely hit the wall and be forced to hang up your running shoes. Although an extreme example, it shows the importance of food and nutrition.
After all, food is fuel.
Also, be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. At the very least, aim to drink 500ml of water before exercise to ensure you’re adequately hydrated for optimal performance.
While you may not need to eat food before short exercise sessions, e.g. working out in the morning, you do need to implement a post-workout nutrition strategy.
This should include eating plenty of carbohydrates and proteins to replenish those lost during your workout.
Ideally, you want to eat something within 30-minutes, even if this is something as simple as a quick protein shake.
How does nutrition affect athletic performance?
Nutrition plays a large role in your athletic and fitness performance. For example, failing to fuel before a race may result in poor performance, while similarly, failing to refuel after an intense gym session will leave your muscles and glycogen stores depleted, perhaps resulting in DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and impacting your performance the next day.
Nutrition is arguably more important than exercise
Arguably, nutrition is more important than exercise.
If you have poor nutrition, you can expect your fitness performance to decrease, recovery time between workouts to increase, and overall, you’re likely to feel worse for wear.
So, what should you do?
Ideally, if starting from scratch, you should learn more about nutrition, including what foods you are eating, what you should be eating, and how food affects your performance – because it does massively!
Hydration is also crucial
The importance of hydration is often overlooked. For example, drinking 2 liters (plus) of water a day helps flush out harmful toxins, speeds up your recovery time between workouts, and increases your fitness performance.
If you struggle to consume enough fluids, consider purchasing a 500 ml water bottle and filling this up at least four times during the day. Alternatively, drink a glass before bed, a glass in the morning, and two more throughout the day.
Getting into a good habit of quality hydration is key, and you’ll likely see a performance increase, too.
To reach peak fitness performance, you should take nutrition seriously. How seriously, you ask? As important as your training plan.
While you don’t need to count calories, you should be aware of the foods you are eating. It’s fine to splurge once in a while, perhaps eating the odd pizza, dessert, or sugary drink. However, it’s all about balance.
So, begin taking your nutrition more seriously, and we guarantee this will transfer over to your fitness performance.