While exercising is an important component in your overall health, you need to combine it with well-balanced nutrition.
Most active adults eat enough throughout the day to support their regular activity. It’s important to avoid the mindset that regular exercise allows you to eat larger portion sizes or high-calorie foods with greater frequency. It’s easy to consume more calories than you burn in regular exercise.
Creating a Well-rounded Diet
Every day, you should be eating three meals, 50-60 percent of which should consist of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy. As with any calorie source, however, overeating carbohydrates as part of an excessive overall intake can cause your body to store extra carbohydrates as fat.
A healthy, balanced plate should consist of:
- ½ Fruits and/or vegetables
- ¼ Carbohydrates (i.e. starches such as rice or pasta)
- ¼ Protein
“If you have difficulty filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, try serving more variety,” says Intermountain Healthcare (hyperlink Intermountain website) registered dietitian Joy Mussleman. “For example, filling half your dinner plate with steamed broccoli may not seem too appealing, but if you were to serve steamed broccoli, cut up melon, and raw baby carrots it would be substantially easier and more enjoyable to eat half your plate as fruits and vegetables.”
Keeping this ratio at every meal is an easy method to help you consume the right proportion of energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. If you tend to get hungry between meals, your snacks should follow a similar pattern. For snacks, you should have a fruit or a vegetable and either a source of protein or a source of carbohydrates.
Some good examples would be:
- A handful of fruit and nut trail mix
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- Half of a peanut butter sandwich with celery sticks
- A small bowl of low-fat granola with raisins or bananas
Keep Yourself Hydrated!
One of the most important things to remember in your daily diet is to drink water consistently throughout the day, not just before, during, and after your workout. Though many people feel it’s necessary to turn to sports drinks for their hydration, water is the best, most natural hydrator. Unless you’re engaging in physical activity for more than two hours at a time, sports drinks are not necessary.