Your nutrition needs are going to be based on your training goals and training program. If you are trying to lose weight, you will need to take in fewer calories than you burn. If you are trying to get stronger and perform faster, you will need carbohydrate intake to match or exceed what you blast through during the day. Regardless of your training goals, hydration is the most important element of any nutrition plan.
Constant dehydration affects 80% of all Americans, and the effects of dehydration can wreak havoc on your body without adding any additional stress from exercise. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, nausea and dizziness. Losing even a small amount of body water, one to 2 percent of body weight, through sweating can begin to lead to dehydration. If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes or at a high intensity, you want to make sure you are hydrating while you are working out from roughly the 30 minute mark on. If you are going at it for less than an hour at a medium intensity, you can probably get by without additional hydration. Watch out for sugary and carb filled sports drinks, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
An integral part of proper hydration is electrolytes. Electrolytes are nutrients that aid in absorption of carbohydrates and water, as well as working to maintain fluid balances. Every athlete has to make sure they get electrolytes and maintain proper hydration for the duration of each and every workout. The most important electrolyte athletes need is sodium. Getting enough sodium ensures you won’t become overhydrated and dilute the concentration of electrolytes in your system, which can lead to increased urination as your body tried to release excess fluid.
Once you’ve ensured you are, and will stay, properly hydrated, you need to fuel your workout. If you’re heading out for less than 60 minutes, you won’t need any additional carbs, regardless of your training goals. If you are working to lose weight, you’ll want to decrease your carbs in order to burn more fat during your gym session. This doesn’t mean fat slip away because you may not perform as well without fuel or will make up for the carb deficiency by overeating later. If you’re going to exercise longer than 60 minutes, your needs will differ based on your training goals. Weight loss athletes want to add roughly 30 grams of carbs per hour over 90 minutes, while performance athletes want to 60 or more grams per hour over 90 minutes. These additional carbs should come from bananas or sweet potatoes for weight loss athletes and sports drinks, gels or bars for performance based training.
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