Food is fuel

15 MAY

Food is fuel

By Dean Phelps on Monday, 15th of May    Tag: eat well, exercise right, food,

Fuel your body correctly with exercise, here is a few options to consider

Food is Fuel

We all know that we must use the right fuel for your car. Feed it the wrong fuel, and our performance tends to suffer in more ways than one. Exercise performance, be it high level competition or merely trying to beat your own personal best time around the block, is directly related to the fuel you choose.

Fitness and a good training regimen is the key to success when it comes to fitness, but food is needed before you even start the journey. While no one eating-plan will fulfil every person’s requirements, the fundamentals of sports nutrition apply all round.

The main fuel that keeps our engines running and muscles pumping during exercise comes from our bodies’ carbohydrate stores. Carbohydrate is stored in two forms, blood glucose and muscle glycogen. Just as a tank of fuel runs out after so many kilometres, our carbohydrate stores are also limited to certain mileage. After this fatigue will set in.

Similar also is the rate of depletion. Driving fast to reach a petrol station when you are on an empty tank is the fastest way NOT to make it. Similarly, the faster or harder you exercise, the quicker your carbohydrate stores burn up.

For a moderately intense training program, carbohydrate food choices should make up more than half your energy intake. This proportion increases as the intensity and duration of your training schedule increases. Nutritious carbohydrate foods such as bread, breakfast cereal, pasta, rice, noodles, couscous, fruit, starchy vegetables, legumes and dairy products should comprise most this figure. To meet the energy demands, athletes expand on the 3 meals per day plan. High energy, low fat snacks in between meals mean that carbohydrate requirements can be met without the need for massive meals 3 times per day.

Snacks such as toasted sandwiches, fruit salad and yoghurt, baked beans on toast, cereal and low fat milk, cereal bars, scones, pikelets and fruit smoothies are great to boost energy levels in between main meals to fuel the next training session.

High fat diets to an athlete are like a flat tyre to a car. You can’t perform efficiently with a flat, or fat. Not only does a high fat diet take longer to digest, it often displaces healthy carbohydrate sources in the diet and can add unwanted kilograms. You benefit your general health at the same time when you use low fat eating strategies. Avoid fatty cuts of meat and trim the meats you do eat. Low fat dairy products, salad dressings, sauces, and snacks should all be chosen over the higher fat alternatives. Low fat cooking methods such as grilling, dry frying and stirfrying make a big difference to the fat content of a meal. Become label smart and learn how to identify a high and low fat product using the nutrition information panel.

A radiator without water works as well as an active body without fluid. Training increases your daily fluid requirements above the recommended 2 litres per day. Sweating helps the body lose heat and cool down, but if this loss of fluid is not replaced regularly, your engine can seize. Even though thirst is often reduced during the cooler months, learning to replace the fluid you lose before thirst sets in is important. Jump on the scales before and after a normal training session to work out your fluid losses. Any changes over a session will reflect the amount of fluid you have lost, not fat loss. A 1 kilogram loss equals 1 litre of fluid. Keeping a water bottle handy during exercise and drinking as regularly as possible during training will minimise your risk of dehydration.

A varied diet that contains high levels of carbohydrates, low levels of fats and a regular supply of fluids will aid in optimising your exercise regimen. Without these basic building blocks, the road towards you sporting goals becomes an uphill battle.

If you would like a more personalized eating plan, book an appointment with our Dietitian to get some assistance with healthy eating HERE


Dean Phelps - Head Physiotherapy

Dean is a registered Gold Coast Physiotherapist with undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Human Movement and Exercise Science. His background has developed his vision for Fighting Fit Physiotherapy to focus on optimal health and peak physical performance for every single patient. Utilising his many qualifications, in depth knowledge of the body and passion for exercise he can provide a holistic approach to your treatment and exercise prescription to get the best outcome.


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