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BLOG: Train Your Body and Your Diet

Author: Jennifer Hamlin
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Whether you’ll be watching the Super Bowl or the Puppy Bowl, we all know what that day has in store for us…food, lots and lots of food. Gatherings like this usually involve foods that are high in calories, fat, and sodium, but this does not always have to be the case. Figuring out how to take a typical “party food” and altering it just a little can make a world of difference in the calories, fat, and sodium content.

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns teach you how to train your body

Now that the excitement of New Years has worn off, it’s time to stick with those resolutions and plan for the months ahead. It’s a popular time for questions about the new goals set- diet habits, new exercise routines, maybe trying new foods- you name it! Among those popular questions is this: With my newfound fitness and changing diet, what can keep me motivated? Many look for answers to this question in races or events that come in the spring or summer. It’s a new challenge that allows you to stick to your resolutions and meet your goals, while having fun with a group of friends! These events can vary a lot, with so many choices available, such as marathons, half marathons, triathlons, paint runs, warrior dashes, tough mudders, cycling races, urban clue challenges- anything that is a fun outdoor experience that can keep you moving!

Training for those events starts now. In order to stick with those training schedules, it means preparing nutritionally as well. Since it can take months to train for an event, it is important to keep your body nourished throughout the process. Nutrition is a key role in achieving peak performance, weight management, and providing energy to keep going day in and day out!

So now that you’ve set those SMART goals and there’s an event to keep you going, how can you prepare nutritionally? Nutrition needs will change with increased exercise and keeping on top of it will have you at the top of your game- whatever game that may be! Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy diet to give you the boost to rev up your training schedule:

  1. Stay hydrated!
    A new routine will increase nutrition needs and this is especially true with fluid. Increased exercise means you are using more energy, and in turn using more water to provide that energy and cool you down. Research has shown that in cold weather, thirst mechanisms are decreased, making it even more important to focus on fluids. Staying hydrated will keep your muscles moving and leave you feeling fuller for longer.
  2. Carb Load?
    This has been a long debated topic. How? When? What to eat? And I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “carbs make me gain weight”. Have no fear my friends. Carbohydrates are an athlete’s main source of energy. Without them, exercise would be very difficult and you’re likely to get headaches and lethargy that will direct you away from exercise completely. That doesn’t mean that all exercise requires eating carbs all the time. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you exercise 90 minutes or more, you may want to focus more on carbohydrates more to fuel you. Your body should have enough energy stored (called glycogen) to keep you moving for up to 90 minutes.
  3. Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns teach you how to train your body
  4. Time It Right.
    About 3-4 hours before exercise, look for options higher in carbohydrates, moderate protein, and lower in fat and fiber than normal. Then, have a small high carbohydrate snack closer to the activity, about 30 minutes- 1 hour before. During activity, make sure to replace any fluids that may be lost and replenishment of carbohydrate isn’t necessary unless activity lasts an hour or longer. After a workout, recovery nutrition is the most important. Your body needs the nutrients and energy to recover. Research shows consuming a snack or light meal that has a 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio to replenish lost stores. This is most beneficial within the first 30 minutes post exercise, but is effective up to 2 hours.
  5. Know Your Needs
    Ultimately, nutritional needs vary with each individual depending on the type, duration, and intensity of activity. Knowing what your activity can do to your body is important, and then you are able to prepare and restore what your body uses during that exercise.

Eating right means a number of things when it comes to being active. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states: “eating well will help you delay fatigue, train longer and harder, recover faster, adapt to workouts, improve body composition and strength, enhance concentration, maintain a healthy immune function, reduce the chance for injury, and reduce the risk of heat cramps/stomach aches.” All in all, it doesn’t matter what type of activity or how hard you want to train, eating right will make the most of days at the gym and keep you moving through your exercise! Just remember: train your body and your diet.

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns teach you how to train your body
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