Fitness nutrition can differ from nutrition to lose or maintain weight. Fitness nutrition is focused on supporting goals of athletes that are trying to maximize their workouts, body composition, and performance.
Timing Consumption is Key for Fitness Nutrition
Fitness nutrition is about timing as well as content. It is important for preparation to exercise, recovery, and maintenance of muscle and performance gains. The exerciser with performance and body composition goals has to preserve muscle they utilize in work outs and events.
Maintaining and building lean muscle is not an easy task. Lean muscle disappears from being sedentary, aging, aerobics, and intense exercise in which refueling is not adequate. Necessary for building and maintaining muscle is the right exercise, protein, carbohydrates, water, sleep, and recovery.
Optimizing Performance Requires Fuel
Optimizing performance, building muscle, and preserving muscle requires nutrients. Muscle needs glucose and protein. Glucose is sugar and the best sources are fruits and vegetables. If the muscles don't have adequate glucose, the body can break down muscle for fuel, which is the last thing an athlete wants.
The body needs glucose for aerobics and resistance training. The body stores glucose in the liver, the blood and in the muscles. The liver can hold about 400 calories, the blood about 100 calories and the muscles about 80 calories. It is pretty easy to figure at what point the body runs low on glucose. The body will turn to adipose tissue for fuel especially in aerobic activities. In high intensity anaerobic activities, muscles make fuel from Adenosine Biphosphate and Pyruvate to create Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) when the muscles are oxygen deprived. ATP is the prime source of muscle energy along with mitochondria in the cells.
In low intensity aerobic activity which can be walking, treadmills, biking, jogging, or resistance training, the body will source fatty acids and glucose for fuel. In this process, the body also breaks down muscle for fuel in a process called catabolism. It is important to stimulate anabolism or positive nitrogen balance in which the body has adequate protein to repair and build muscle and adequate glucose to fuel catalytic processes of the muscles during activity.
It should now be evident that starving the body to lose weight or deprive the body of adequate calories or nutrients works counter to building and maintaining muscle. Starving reduces metabolism and forces the body to hold onto fat stores.Not a process most people desire. Not providing enough calories causes the body to access the muscles for fuel which is counter to most goals.
How Do We Determine Our Correct Calorie Intake?
This creates the question of asking what is the right amount of nutrients and calories to maintain or lose weight and build muscle. Athletes engaged in high intensity exercise do not want to lose weight although no one has a problem with converting fat to muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat so a successful program would find the athlete becoming leaner and perhaps heavier. Digestion and muscle need large amounts of water so a half ounce of water per pound of body weight per day is a good goal for aiding digestion, building muscle, and losing fat.
How does one know how many calories to consume a day for their goal? There are many formulas for determining the Minimum Daily Calories to maintain weight. Since a pound of weight is about 3,500 calories, maintaining, losing, or gaining weight is a balance of consumption and energy expenditure. To lose a pound of weight a week you would need to reduce calories by 500 a day or in combination with additional energy expenditure. If an hour of exercise is 500 calories and consumption is reduced 500 calories a day, the body should lose two pounds a week.
The Minimum Daily Calorie or Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) can be estimated with the more popular MIfflln St-Jeor equation:
For men RMR= (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) - (5 x age, years) +5
For women its the same but at the end its -161.
Calculate weight in kg by dividing pounds by 2.2. Calculate height in cm by multiplying inches by 2.54.
So a 30 year old male who weighs 180 pounds and is 6' tall and is an active exerciser would be calculated as follows:
RMR= (10 x 81.8) + (6.25 x 182.88) - (5 x 30) + 5
10 x 81.8 = 818, 6.25 x 182.88 = 1,143, 5 x 30= 150, -5
RMR= 1816 calories a day
Then we multiply by a range of numbers from 1.3 for a sedentary person to 1.9 for an extreme athlete. This gives us the daily calorie requirement to maintain our weight given our level of exercise. Our moderately active male (sports 3 to 5 days a week) multiplies his RMR by 1.55.
This gives us a total daily caloric intake allowance of 2814 calories a day. Now getting calories from the right food is important. Fruits and vegetables are often considered negative calories because their enzymes help burn not only their own composition, but additional food consumed. Empty and harmful calorie foods have zero enzymes and require other foods to supply digestive enzymes (any packaged or unnatural foods)
There are various ways to monitor our progress. The bathroom scale is one measure, but can be deceptive if we are putting on muscle. Fat calipers might be a great measure of progress toward our goals. The fit of our clothes can also tell us how we are doing.
Judging Our Success by How We Feel
The next important gauge is how we feel and perform. If we are not getting enough calories we are going to become tired. We are not going to have weight or muscle gains. Our performance will deteriorate. These can also be the symptoms of over training (inadequate recovery), lack of sleep, dehydration, inadequate protein or carbohydrates (eating poorly), and poor meal timing.
Exercise preparation should begin with adequate consumption of protein, carbohydrates, and water two to three hours before intense exercise. This allows most of the carbohydrates and protein to reach the muscles in the form of glucose and protein. It also ensures that the blood supply is not divided between digestion and muscle demands. This is exercising on a fasted state.
After exercise, it is important that we supply the body with carbohydrates, protein and water to restore glucose, repair and build muscles. In intense aerobics in which we lose pounds, we have to drink 16 oz of water every twenty minutes for each pound lost. In intense resistance training we need carbohydrates to stimulate insulin to carry the glucose to the muscles. If we ingest protein as well, the insulin will deliver glucose and protein to the muscles to stop catabolism and stimulate anabolism.
Beginner exercisers can start with a low intensity aerobic warm up before resistance exercise and then ingest 100 calories of carbohydrates and protein (half a Cliff Bar) following resistance training and do a low intensity aerobic warm down for 10 to 20 minutes. This fuel will supply the body with muscle building nutrients and convert fat to muscle as fatty acids are sourced for the aerobic exercise.
For a customized program for your goals see Coaching
For an exercise package that can include surf instruction see Packages