Regardless of your sport and training level, you’re nutrition is absolutely vital. As you workout, you’re placing a huge variety of demands on your body and – in order to respond properly – you need to be adequately fueled. But “adequately fueled” can mean a lot of different things. Nutrition is, after all, an incredibly complicated topic.
To help clear things up a little bit, let’s take a look at some of the most common sports nutrition myths and what you can do to solve them.
Not Eating Enough
When they’re trying to lose – or maintain – weight, the natural instinct of most people is to watch their caloric intake. If you’re not careful, though, this can be counter-productive and even dangerous.
As mentioned, exercise burns fuel and in order to meet the demands of your activity, enough fuel needs to be present. In this case, we’re talking about total calories – whether they comes from fat, protein or carbohydrates. What many people fail to account for, though, is the effect that their training has on their caloric needs.
Obviously, you burn calories during your workouts – depending on the duration, intensity and type of training. But your body also burns more calories at rest as you develop more muscle mass and get rid of body fat.
As your training and fitness level changes, then, so do your caloric needs. Undereating while training can negatively impact your performance and even damage your metabolism.
Going Light On Protein
Along with total calories, your macronutrient intake is also incredibly important to your performance. Of the three, protein is the only one that isn’t (typically) used for fuel and is, instead, broken down into its amino acids to be used as building material for… just about everything.
Of particular interest to the athlete is the role that protein plays in building muscle. As you exercise, you damage your muscle fibers and protein provides the raw materials needed to rebuild and improve those fibers. If you’re exercising and not getting adequate levels of protein, you’re challenging your body without giving it a fair chance.
A high-quality protein powder, like Gnarly Whey, is a convenient way to make sure that you’re getting all the protein you need without having to prepare massive meals all the time.
Not Hydrating Properly
Here’s a fact that many people forget: Hydration is part of nutrition. When you exercise, you sweat. And when you sweat, you lose water – a substance that is vital for your metabolism, the transportation of nutrients throughout your system, the health of your joints, your digestion, controlling your internal temperature and tons of other biological functions.
Going into exercise, or pushing through a workout, while dehydrated then is a pretty ghastly mistake. And, yet, a lot of people do it.
Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day so that you’re ready to go when it’s time to workout. And if your activity lasts for more than 90 minutes, you’ll like need a sports drink to get your electrolytes back. But skip any products that are loaded with artificial dyes and additives.
Ignoring Iron Levels
In addition to the macros, exercise also tends to deplete levels of micronutrients – things like vitamin and minerals. While this is a huge topic, it’s important to highlight that many athletes deal with iron deficiencies, a problem that can be fairly easily avoided or fixed once it’s identified.
As a nutrient, iron is key in the creation of red blood cells, the transportation of oxygen through the blood, releasing energy in the cells and in supporting healthy immune function. When iron levels are low, athletes often feel sluggish, weak and just generally cranky.
Eating a diet that is high in iron rich foods like lean red meat, poultry, or seafood every day is the primary way to avoid this issue. Vegetarians should pair their irony foods with vitamin C since the iron found in plant sources does not absorb as well as that in animal products.
Missing Nutrition Windows
Sometimes, getting to the gym is all you can do. You get in and get out as quickly as possible to get on with the next demand on your time. But this rush could mean that your ignoring your immediate nutrition needs.
As mentioned earlier, your overall diet can have a huge impact on your performance. But the way that you eat in the hours leading up to your workout is also worth direct consideration. When you head to the gym, it’s important to have enough protein and slow carbohydrates in your system to provide fuel for your muscles.
Within about 30 minutes of exercising, a similar protein-rich snack will help your muscles recover. Throw in some fast carbohydrates to restore your glucose levels to normal and fuel recovery. Those carbs will also increase your insulin levels which will make sure that the protein gets to where it needs to be and can be rapidly absorbed.