Confused about what to eat to make the most of your physical activity? Read on to separate fact from fiction when it comes to eating and exercise.
Why are healthy food choices important for your active lifestyle?
Vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and milk alternatives all have carbohydrates, which provide energy for your workout.
Milk and milk alternatives, meat, poultry, fish, legumes (beans, lentils) and nuts and seeds provide the protein we need to build and repair muscles.
A wide variety of foods provide the vitamins and minerals we need to build strong bones and muscles, fight off infections and provide the energy we need to keep our bodies moving.
Want to make the most of your active lifestyle? Here are three things to remember:
1) Most people do not need special diet and sports supplements to exercise at your best.
Supplements, pills and powders are not necessary to lose weight or build muscle. If you follow Canada’s Food Guide you are most likely to get all the protein, vitamins and minerals you need to build strong bones and muscles.
Expensive protein powders are popular but they will not necessarily help you build bigger muscles, but they will lighten your wallet! The protein in those powders is the same protein you find in food, so while they may contribute to building muscle, they don’t have all the other healthy vitamin and minerals that comes with eating real food. The best way to build muscle mass is by following a safe weight training program together with healthy eating and enough sleep.
2) During exercise, drink enough water to replace what you lose in sweat. Don’t overdo it!
You don’t need to drink gallons of water before, during or after exercise. Your best game plan is to stay hydrated during the day, keep water handy when you’re being active and take sips of water when working out. Drink water or a sports drink (if you’ve been active at a high intensity) after your workout to help replace some of the water you’ve lost through sweat and refuel you for next time.
*And remember, even during winter activities and sports you can still sweat, so keep that water handy when playing out in the cold.
3) Energy drinks will not help you have a more energetic workout!
Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks. Sports drinks help you quickly replace the water and electrolytes that you lose when being very active. Energy drinks are higher in sugar, which can make them harder to absorb during exercise and could cause stomach upset. They also are often carbonated (fizzy) which makes it harder to drink enough to stay hydrated. The caffeine in energy drinks can also disrupt your sleep. A good night’s rest and eating healthy are the true keys to having the energy to be active.
*Caution: Energy drinks should not be used children, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Stay active and eat like a champion game plan:
Be active for 30-60 minutes each day. This includes anything from running on a treadmill, to walking your dog in the snow, to taking the stairs more often.
Choose food over expensive pills, powders and other supplements. These will not help you lose weight or build muscle more effectively than making healthy food choices.
Follow Canada’s Food Guide so that you get the nutrients you need to build strong bones and muscles, keep your heart strong and have the energy to keep moving.
Stay hydrated with water, not energy drinks. Drink water or sports drinks to help you replace the fluid you’ve lost when sweating. This goes for winter activities too.
Dietitians are your best source for nutrition information. If you have a question about making the right choices for your active lifestyle call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.
More articles on physical activity:
15 Smart Snacks for Active Lifestyles
Healthy Eating Checklist for Active Adults
Get into the Swing of Being Active
Physical Activity Guide, Public Health Agency of Canada
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
To find a Registered Dietitian specializing in sports nutrition, call 1-888-901-7776 or visit Find a Dietitian.
Last Update – February 22, 2018