Food Intake and Movement 101
To maintain your current weight, you should balance the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses. Or, if you’re interested in losing weight, you must create a caloric deficit by burning more calories than you ingest.
It’s important to properly pair your movement and activity type with your food intake. Certain foods match better with specific movements than others. Exercise is typically broken down into two categories: cardio and calisthenics, aka strength training.
Cardio includes activities like walking, running and biking, all of which need fuel from carbohydrates and fat. Carbohydrates are the body’s go-to, but healthy fats also provide great doses of energy.
As the intensity of your workout changes, like you start running at a faster pace or hit an uphill climb, your body goes back and forth between carbs and fat to provide you with energy. Examples of beneficial carbs are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and dairy. Healthy fats come from olive oil, avocados, nuts, peanut butter, eggs, and salmon.
Strength training includes activities like weight lifting, push-ups, sit-ups, and more. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat are all crucial sources of fuel that you’ll need when performing these types of exercises.
Eating protein when you’re strength training is important because it builds muscle and promotes a post-workout recovery. The protein you ingest turns into amino acids, which your body combines and uses as needed. Egg whites, soy, Greek yogurt, quinoa, legumes, chicken breasts, fish, and chickpeas are all great choices of high-quality protein. Don’t load up on a ton of protein right before hitting the gym though, because you might get stomach cramps. It’s better to ingest protein throughout the day.
You also need carbs as fuel because they are your body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates are partially converted to glycogen, which is stored in your muscles to help power through a workout. Brown rice, whole grain pasta, vegetables, and fruits provide your body with healthy carbs. Your body also relies on healthy fats that come from food like almonds, avocados, olives, fatty fish, and seeds to supply energy to your muscles as you pump iron or do a pull-up.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated before, during, and after your workout. Water can maximize your performance and improve recovery time.