Whether you are hitting the gym 4 times a week, or lead a very active outdoors life – there are certain added nutrition details you need to be aware of . Like with many other fields, this one is full of myths as well, so let’s break it down.
Fact: It is true that athletes and body builders require more protein but the amount is so trivial that they often can just add a piece of steak and it gets the job done. Bottom line here is that without proper strength training and CARBOHYDRATE intake, it would be quite difficult to buff up like you’d want.
Myth #2: Vitamin supplements give you energy
Fact: There’s a grain of truth in this myth in that, if you have a vitamin deficiency it will most likely affect your overall energy BECAUSE they assist the body in carrying out important biochemical reactions – but in themselves, vitamins do not provide energy or calories. The truth though is that popping vitamin pills won’t help you bench more or run faster. In addition to this, even if your are vitamin deficient, it could be a while before taking supplements can take effect because these aren’t magic pills. Be ware however, some vitamins can be in fact be toxic in high doses and so this isn’t a “myth” to be reckoned with! Again bottom line: If your overall macronutrient intake is balanced and sufficient adding a vitamin pill will probably not lead to better performance.
Myth #3: Water during exercise upsets the stomach
Truth: It is actually the opposite – being dehydrated will DEFINITELY decrease performance ability and energy levels. In fact, during a heavy workout it is recommended to drink 1/2 cup of fluid such as cool water every 10 to 15 minutes during the exercise in order to replace fluids lost as sweat. Some sports drinks are OK to use, but this will really depend on their content, and my usual advice is always WATER.
Myth #4: Protein shakes/supplements are the only recovery food that work
Truth: the truth here is that there are a lot of variables to considers. The shake has to contain the right ratio of carbohydrate and protein, AND minimal additives AND you must have worked out to the extent you need a recovery drink. In reality, there are a lot of foods, tastier and very practical that will give you the same results. A few examples are: peanut butter and jelly or turkey sandwich (on whole wheat), trail mix, bagels (w/o cream cheese), yogurt with fruit, and meal replacement bars.
Myth #5: It doesn’t matter what you eat before a workout
Truth: The key here is that the type and duration of exercise you are doing matters. In general, you want to consume food that will fend off hunger, give you a little energy, and leave you feeling comfortable. Therefore, we advise that the best pre-exercise meals should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber (fiber is low in this case to avoid bloated-ness on the gym floor – your body and gym-mates will appreciate it!). It is NOT advisable to eat RIGHT before a workout as it takes time for the body to digest and give you the benefits of the meal you are consuming. Again, the type and duration of your workout will dictate the timing and content of the pre-exercise meal.
Finally, It must be noted that if you’re a heavy athlete, it’s advisable to see a dietitian to monitor your caloric intake and advise you on how to arrange your meals for your workout. Weight lifting differs than high intensity workouts and body types also play a role – these ALL need to be considered when designing your perfect exercise/food plan.
If you’re someone who is a regular gym go-er, then the most important aspects for you are hydration and maintaining a balanced diet – but just for you, I’ll dedicate another post just for this some time soon (so ask for any questions you might have now please!).