You regularly work out to have bulging biceps or make six-pack abs. Tried hard with all your might and diet to have a super model’s beefed up or wafer-thin body. All in vain…..
We all strive to be fit and due to increased awareness and influence of media, all of us want to look good. It is not just professional athletes or bodybuilders who are concerned about the fitness aspect. But, do you really think you can do so by just pumping iron? The answer is NO…
Fitness can only be achieved by combining diet and exercise. Together they work as two pillars on which our fitness stands and it is rightly said that a balance needs to be maintained between the two. Diet or exercise alone will not show the desired results.
Nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals are essential if you are into moderate to heavy exercising. Let’s see how?
Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. BCAA, arginine, glutamine are few of these which you would have heard about often in the fitness industry. Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) are important components of muscle protein. If you want to build new muscle tissue you will get greatly benefitted by the consumption of foods rich in BCAA. Include a good amount of meats, poultry, egg, milk and milk products and choose from lean (low fat) cuts of meat and low-fat dairy options. Vegetarian fitness enthusiasts run a risk of deficiency of BCAA which can be covered by supplementing their diet with BCAA.
Arginine, supports heart health, improves the flow of blood throughout the body, may decrease body fat levels, boosts energy levels and keeps blood glucose constant. Arginine, when taken by an athlete, helps in providing energy for the workout and also provides the much needed nitric oxide. Its intake though should be avoided if you are on blood pressure-lowering drugs. Include dairy products, beef, pork, chicken, seafood, wheat, oatmeal, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, seeds of pumpkin, sesame and sunflower for the daily dose of arginine.
Glutamine: Glutamine being beneficial in tissue building supports a muscle-building activity. It also helps in defining muscles or forming cuts in the muscles. Dietary sources of glutamine include beef, pork, chicken, milk and milk products, raw spinach, raw parsley, and cabbage.
Creatine though popular and effective as a supplement for improving endurance and performance has not been discussed at this point as it does not come in the nutrient category.
Diets of most of the fitness lovers revolve around proteins and amino acids and a majority of them commit the same mistake. They forget or ignore the inclusion of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in their diet. Most try to refrain from carbohydrates. Carbs provide the much-needed energy to work out and they also spare protein for their most important role: Muscle Building. In their absence proteins are utilized to give energy for the workout and the muscle-building role is hampered. Try taking complex carbohydrates like fruits, cereals, etc in place of simple ones like sugars.
Vitamins and minerals are equally important as they are involved in building muscles and preventing muscle cramps and injuries. Vitamins A, C and B12 and minerals like zinc and magnesium need special emphasis. Vegetables and fruits are rich in most vitamins and minerals like yellow-orange fruits-veggies are a good source of vitamin A, citrus fruits (lemon, lime, oranges, etc.) provide us with vitamin C. Magnesium is found in foods like wheat bran (choker), nuts, flaxseed (alsi) and zinc is present in peanuts, oysters.
Take a balanced diet and forget about focusing just on proteins. Deficiency of any nutrient might predispose you to illnesses. Illness of even a day can lead to loss of the muscles which were built in a hard way.