Most physical activity requires a lot of time and physical demand on your body, so taking in the proper nutrients is of the utmost importance. Whether you are Mr. Universe or an MMA champion consuming the proper amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates will give your body the energy to get through those grueling workouts and, in addition, grant you a healthy lifestyle in the long run.
So what about the different nutrients that your body takes in? Why is it so important? How much and when should you be eating? When devising your daily meal plan always divide up all your nutrients that you should be taking in over the course of 5 meals. You want to feed your body every 3-4 hours. Giving it the nutrients that it needs throughout the course of the day will maximize energy levels and consumption of vitamins and minerals.
Let’s start with protein. Everyone knows the common cliché that protein is only meant for bodybuilders who want to gain muscle. This is totally untrue. The rule for protein intake can stretch across all athletes, particularly MMA fighters. Protein is the one type of calorie that your body does not store for energy. Lack of protein throughout the day will cause you to feel sluggish, weak and in the long run you will lose overall muscle on your body. General rule for protein is that it should be taken in with every meal. Great sources of protein are chicken and turkey breast, lean red meat, fish, eggs and protein shakes. All of these sources are very low in saturated fat and will help you complete your daily protein needs.
Consumption of fats in your daily meal plan is also important and essential. Fats are needed to sustain energy levels in the body and to help in muscle repair after a
grueling workout. Try and stay away from foods that are high in saturated fat such as fried or fast food, really fatty cuts of beef and corn oils. These are the fats that will make you fat and that can raise your cholesterol levels, potentially giving you heart problems. The fats that your body needs to sustain high levels of energy are low in saturated fats but higher in mono-saturated and poly-saturated fats. These fats help you get through your training and in addition will actually help your cholesterol levels. Great fats to eat are nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts or cashews), fish (salmon, tuna, tilapia and cod), eggs, lean cuts of beef (sirloin or fillet), peanut butter, and olive oil. These fats should be used moderately throughout the day with almost every meal to sustain your performance levels.
Carbohydrates are also very important to the body because it replenishes the body of the simple sugars and starches that it needs to function at optimal performance. The two best times to take in starches are in the morning and after you workout. In both cases your body is depleted: in the morning from sleeping from 6-8 hours and not eating and after a workout when your body’s blood sugar levels have been drained from intense exercise. In both instances, carbohydrates are needed to replenish the body and to get it out of a catabolic effect, when your body burns muscle. Great carbohydrates to eat during these times are oatmeal, sweet or baked potatoes and white/brown rice. All of these sources are slower to digest and your body will utilize them throughout the day.
Carbohydrates to stay away from are breads, fast foods, pasta and refined sugars such as cakes and other desserts. These sources will spike your sugar levels in the body, making you feel very lethargic and will be stored in the body as fat. Fruits and vegetables also play an important part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Vegetables such as salad, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus give your body lots of vitamins and nutrients. Fruits such as apples, oranges, berries and bananas also provide the body with antioxidants to fight off any sicknesses.
Two of the highlights of this article above are on protein and carbohydrates. Protein is mentioned as a necessity with every meal and carbohydrates are mentioned as a necessity after a work out. For those who are familiar with a smoothie, it is all fruit and juice which is primarily carbohydrates.