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 media influence, we all 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…
Combining diet and exercise is the only way to achieve fitness. Together, they form the two pillars on which our fitness relies, and it is rightly said that we need to maintain a balance 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 the building blocks of proteins and act as fuel for muscles
BCAA, arginine, glutamine are few of these which you would have heard about often in the fitness industry and are often marketed as fuel for muscles. Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) are important components of muscle protein. To build new muscle tissue, consuming foods rich in BCAA will greatly benefit you. 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 face the risk of BCAA deficiency, which they can address 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. When taken by an athlete, it helps in providing energy for the workout and also provides the much needed nitric oxide. Arginine should be avoided by those taking blood pressure lowering medications. 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.
Although creatine is popular and effective as a supplement for improving endurance and performance, we have not discussed it at this point because it does not fall into 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. Foods like wheat bran (choker), nuts, flaxseed (alsi) contain magnesium, while peanuts and oysters contain zinc.
Take a balanced diet and forget about focusing just on proteins. Muscles are made from protein but proteins arent the only fuel for muscles. Deficiency of any nutrient might predispose you to illnesses. Even a day of illness can cause the loss of the hard-earned muscles.