Thursday, December 31, 2009

Foods to eat for Intense Exercise for Maximum Athletic Performance

With any intense exercise program or sports, such as P90X, Insanity, Football, Basketball, Soccer, Running, Swimming, Circuit Training, Weightlifting, or HIIT, it is important to eat the right food to fuel your body. Without the right food, you will not be able to perform at your highest level, causing you not to achieve the results you want as quickly or causing you to loose your game due to a lack of energy. If you are an athlete like myself, it is very important to eat the right foods through out the day, before your sports event/exercise, and afterwards. When I am in track and cross country season, I really have to make sure I am eating enough, especially since I would do P90X as well. During this time I require about 3500 calories a day. However, I can not just go and eat what ever I want. I have to fuel myself correctly so I can recover and come back stronger and prepared for the next workout. This aspect is the same for anyone. You may not be doing two intense workouts a day and do not need a ton of calories, but the calories you do eat need to be nutritious to fuel you body. Each food you eat has a specific purpose, whether for hydrating, muscle repair and growth, preventing muscle cramping, or to replace nutrients lost while exercising. Empty calories such as soda, alcohol, and junk food have not purpose hear, so they should be avoided. Also, you can not be on a "diet" while doing very intense exercise. This can cause your body to go into starvation mode, and you will not make any gains and can become sick. It is also important to eat plenty of complex carbohydrates. You can not be on a high protein, low carb diet during this time. You would run out of energy and you muscles would not recover quick enough. It is also very important to drink plenty of water. This keeps your body functioning properly and regulated. I suggest drinking at least 12 cups of water a day. Here are some healthy foods to maximize your athletic performance.

1) Eggs - Muscle Building, Immunity, Vision
One egg provides more than 6 grams of protein and 78 calories. They contain A and B vitamins to enhance immunity, nerve response, and vision. I personally eat 2 eggs almost every morning with my breakfast. Healthy ways to cook eggs include boiling, microwaving, and cooking in a pan with cooking spray.

2) Waffles/Pancakes - Cardio Fuel
Waffles are great breakfast choice if you are going to be running in the morning, since eggs can turn stomachs. They provide carbs for quick energy, and make a nice "plate" for fruit. You can top waffles with fruit and nuts, to sneak in important vitamins and more protein. Also make sure you use whole wheat flour and avoid syrup.

3) Fruit - Hydration
Fruit is one of the most important components of one's diet because it helps you stay hydrated in the heat, while providing a great source of carbohydrates, potassium, fiber, and no fat. Smoothies are a great way to get your fruit intake. This is how I personally have most of my fruit. A great smoothie can include a banana, frozen fruit, skim milk or natural fruit juice, and whey protein powder. This can make a great meal!

4) Milk – Strong Bones, Muscle Contraction
Milk is good for the obvious reason of building strong bones through calcium, milk also assists in muscle contraction through high magnesium and potassium content, which can control nerve function and prevent muscle cramping. That means less twitching at night when you are trying to fall asleep after a hard day of training/exercise. You can use milk in smoothies and oatmeal, which adds more texture than if you just used water.

5) Chicken Breast – Lean Muscle, Energy, MemoryIf you want to gain lean muscle mass, eat lean muscle mass. Grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast, is one of the easiest elements of any meal. One serving (about 3 oz.) is only 142 calories, yet it provides close to 27 g of protein, and only 3 grams of fat. It helps athletes retain muscle mass and is a good source of B vitamins, which provide energy and aid in memory, which is important for players needing to memorize the playbook.

6) Fish - Anti-inflammation, Muscle Repair, Immune Function
Swordfish, tuna, salmon, and halibut are same of the best and well know fish. Omega-3fatty acids in fish can help your body recover faster from the wear and tear of strenuous exercise. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids help muscles repair faster and improve immune function. Never eat fried fish, always grill, bake, or broil.

7) Vegetables – Hydration, Muscle Repair
Like fruit, vegetables are a staple food group for replacing water lost through sweat. Plant sterols also aid in muscle repair. Yo can eat them by flavoring them using low-fat marinades like balsamic vinaigrette, or olive oil with garlic and onion. Broiling, roasting, or grilling are the easiest ways to cook vegetables to retain the flavor.

8) Pasta and Rice – Energy, Speed Recovery
Whole-grain pasta and rice play a huge part in team diets because they're easy to prepare for large groups and they provide excellent sources of carbohydrates to give energy for exercise and speed recovery afterward. Stir-frys are one of the easiest and tastiest ways to eat whole-grain products, vegetables, and protein sources in one dish.

9) Sports Drinks/Water – Hydration, Prevent Muscle Cramping
Athletes often drink Gatorade on the field. Staying hydrated is a key issue for all teams, especially with heat. Athletes lose pounds of body weight through sweat, and sports drinks replace lost sodium and electrolytes, which are crucial to avoid muscle cramping. Personally, I would recommend to avoid Gatorade, unless you are on a sports team such as football or soccer, then Gatorade could be beneficial. I recommend sticking to water, and after your intense exercise session you should refuel with the P90X Results and Recovery Drink. It is also important to know your sweat rate. Before exercise, weigh yourself. Afterward, get back on the scale, and determine how much water was lost by the difference between your before and after weights. In one hour, an athlete can lose up to two liters of sweat. Hydrate by drinking 1-to-1.5 times the weight lost in fluid ounces.

10) Sodium-Rich Foods – Retain Water, Prevent Muscle Cramping
If you're working out and losing a lot of fluids, it's a good idea to include more sodium-rich foods to help you retain water and avoid muscle cramping. Pickles, salted nuts, and pretzels are all great sodium-rich foods, as well as soup. Broth-based soups hydrate you through the liquid base and added vegetables.

Keep in mind, not everyone should be consuming sodium-rich foods, sports drinks, or have a high carb diet. These recommendations are only for you if you are involved in intense daily exercise or team sports. But remember, the most important thing is that you do workout and are committed to a better you. Even it is just a beginner program like Power 90, Turbo Jam, Slim in 6, Hip Hop Abs, or just even starting to run or jog around your neighborhood. Your results come from 20% workouts and 80% diet, so make sure your diet is tuned to meet your needs and goals. By doing so you will achieve fast results and stay motivated! If you are truly ready to change your life and get into the best shape of your life, then you need to be willing to commit yourself to the diet as well as the workouts.

Have a fantastic 2010!

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