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Dietary recommendations for exercisers

Updated: May 31, 2022 Print
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Life lies in movement. Scientific exercise, backed by good nutrition, is vital for a healthy life.

Should we try to eat less staple food, in order to burn fat through exercise?
Nutrients include proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. The energy we need for daily work and life is from the oxidative metabolism of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are not only the main energy source of the body, but also an important energy supply for your exercise. When sufficiently ingested, they will further synthesize the glycogen required for exercise and store it in muscle and liver. But if there is too much glucose, carbohydrates will synthesize fat and store it in the body.

Therefore, proper nutrition matched with exercise lies in the selection of appropriate types of carbohydrate-rich foods and control of their intake.

The energy consumption of the body mainly falls into three categories: maintaining basic metabolism, engaging in physical exercise and the thermic effect of food. Insufficient energy intake will cause hunger and reduce physical strength and work efficiency; and excessive intake can easily lead to obesity and related chronic diseases. For people who often exercise, it is recommended that the daily carbohydrate foods account for 50 to 65 percent of their energy supply.

If you aim to lose weight through exercise, it is recommended that you eat fewer simple sugars (such as white granulated sugar, brown sugar, rock sugar, and fructose syrup) that can increase your blood glucose level in a short time,while controlling your total energy intake. You can instread choose foods that contain complex carbohydrate with low glycemic index (such as coarse grains and potatoes).

Do I need to increase protein intake if I want to gain more muscle?
Muscle growth is the result of a variety of factors. Diet alone cannot get you strong muscles. If you just sit on the sofa and watch TV every day, eating more protein won't help you grow muscles. It will only build up fat.

To grow muscle, a combination of a certain intensity of resistance exercise with a balanced diet is needed.

Studies found that low-intensity resistance exercise training (≤ 50% 1RM. 1RM is the maximum load that can be taken each time) is enough to maintain or enhance muscle strength and grow muscle, but high-intensity resistance exercise training (80% 1RM) can achieve maximum strength growth. Insufficient exercise load usually does not increase lean weight, only high-volume resistance exercise can do this, and it should last for at least three months.

Even with high-intensity professional exercise training, the recommended protein intake should not exceed twice the daily portion of ordinary people. It should also be noted that excessive intake of protein may increase the metabolic burden of the kidneys.

You only need to add a small amount of protein to your daily diet for average exercise. For instance, you can drink a glass of low-fat milk to supplement the protein after exercise.

Is there a diet plan that can make exercise easier?
If you often find it difficult to exercise, in addition to checking whether your exercise intensity is too high, you should also check your diet: are you eating regular meals? Are you exercising on an empty stomach? Does your diet plan include plenty of carbohydrates?

According to the recommendations of dietary guidelines for Chinese residents, a reasonable daily diet should include staple foods, vegetables, fruits, livestock meat or aquatic products, milk, egg and bean products, oil, and sufficient water.

If you are going to exercise with high intensity, you can supplement an additional meal that has a total energy of 200 to 300 kcal and is rich in carbohydrates about one hour before you start, and increase hydration to ensure the energy supply during exercise.

Don't forget to take away this portion of energy from the main meal on that day to control the total daily energy intake.

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