Monday, November 10, 2003

Proper nutrition as vital as exercise

By Dave Patania
Personal trainer

Question: I have been working out pretty hard with a trainer for the past few months and have seen good results. The sessions aren't unbearable, yet after each workout, I feel exhausted and weak rather than invigorated. What's going on?

Answer: Feeling weak for 10-30 minutes after a good workout is actually normal. However, if you are constantly in a fatigued state throughout the day, more often than not it is a matter of your nutrition, along with rest.

Many people who are engaged in exercise focus most of their attention on how hard they can work and on mastering their particular activity. Problems occur when they don't pay the same regard to nutrition.

In response to hard training, your body breaks down muscle tissue by using the protein that you consume to repair and build even more muscle tissue. This is true for people who do high aerobic activity as well because with endurance activities, the body uses amino acids (compounds that make up proteins) as fuel along with carbohydrates. If your protein levels are too low, your body won't be able to repair and build more muscle mass in response to your training, thus reducing recovery, strength and energy.

You should look at your carbohydrate intake as well. Hard training also demands carbohydrates (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes), which provide your body with the energy needed to fuel your workouts. The carbohydrates you consume are broken down into a storage form called glycogen and stored in your muscles and liver. If you are not eating enough quality carbohydrates, you won't have enough energy stored in the body to sustain harder forms of training.

The key is to eat the highest quality carbs that are less likely to be stored as fat and more likely to be broken down slowly and used for energy production. Processed carbs such as breads, pastas, sugar, candy and pastries are the culprit. If you are training consistently and eating unprocessed carbs along with your protein, vegetables, fruits and vitamin and mineral complexes, your energy levels will soar.

Supplementation is important as well. A general rule is to have a solid meal two to three hours before training; a small protein/carb energy shake or bar 30-40 minutes before training and another shake or bar within five-15 minutes after training.

As an adult, recovery nutrients are just as important as your training. Drink lots of water and be sure to get ample rest (at least seven hours of sleep a night) to give your body time to repair muscle tissue, distribute vital nutrients throughout the body and gear up for the next day.


Contact personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail:

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