fuel up and refuel
Macronutrients, by definition, are the nutrients we need in relatively large amounts. They consist of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. In addition to providing energy (or calories), each of these nutrients plays a unique and important role in helping our bodies function on a daily basis. Naturally, then, each of these nutrients is critical for getting the most out of your workout or performing well in your sport. That’s right—we need all three: carbs, protein, and fat to promote health. The Institute of Medicine recommends most young adults eat them in the following relative amounts:
Carbohydrates: 45-65% of total calorie intake
Protein: 10-35% of total calorie intake
Fat: 20-35% of total calorie intake
This might come as a surprise, considering the media attacks carbs and fat, hailing protein as the most important. Not true—they’re each important in their own way. Check out how each of these nutrients affects your workout:
Helps you get energized for your workout or competition and stay energized for longer stretches of exercise. Replenishing carbohydrates after a workout also help your muscles recover.
Foods containing the most carbs: grains, fruit, beans, vegetables, and dairy
Helps produce and rebuild muscle proteins after physical activity.
Foods containing the most protein: lean meat and poultry (chicken & turkey), fish, beans & soy/soy-based products, dairy, nuts
Helps provide energy for endurance activity and aids in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins needed for healthy body function, including maintaining strong bones.
Foods containing the most fat: oils, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts
Pre Workout Nutrition
Eat 1-3 hours before exercise, depending on your unique schedule and on how your body typically feels after eating. Choosing a balance of easily digestible carbohydrates and protein sources (mostly carbohydrate, see examples below), may keep your stomach from flipping during physical activity, while giving you the energy you need to perform.
Examples of pre-workout snacks:
Oatmeal & fruit
Nut butter & banana/apple
Carrots & hummus
Nuts & raisins (trail mix)
Post Workout Nutrition:
Kick start the recovery process by eating a balance of carbohydrates and protein (again, mostly carbohydrates) within 30 minutes of your completed workout.
Examples of post-workout snacks:
Low-fat chocolate milk
Fruit & Greek yogurt or smoothie
Apple or banana with nut butter
Nuts & dried fruit (trail mix)
Turkey on a whole-grain wrap with veggies
What about the Rest of the Day?
Ever workout one day but feel super sore the next? This shows how it takes hours, even days, for our muscles to fully recover from a workout. Help your muscles do their thing by eating balanced meals throughout the day. That means getting whole grains, lean proteins, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and low-fat/non-fat dairy and eating about every 4 hours.
Should I Take Dietary Supplements?
Mmm…not really. At this time, there’s not enough evidence to support taking many of the supplements currently on the market. Not to mention that the supplement industry is largely unregulated and makes over $30 billion per year…So you won’t be surprised to hear some supplement companies may be stretching the truth on what their pills can do, just to persuade you to buy their products. We can get all the nutrients we need to perform well by eating a balanced diet of a variety of different foods. However, even with the best of intentions, such a meal pattern might be difficult to achieve and maintain. Therefore, taking a basic multivitamin is sometimes recommended to make sure you’re getting enough of key nutrients, such as iron, calcium, and vitamin D that help support physical activity. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to learn more.