The Building Blocks of For Losing Weight While Pregnancy: Carbohydrate, Protein, Fat, and Hydration
Food is fuel. The foods we consume are composed of three macronutrients responsible for supplying energy to the body for physical activity. All energy used by the body is derived from the food we eat. Carbohydrate, protein, and fat are the three macronutrients found in foods providing calories and thus supply the energy that fuels performance, yet their contribution to energy production is not equal. Knowing the basic structure and metabolism of these three macronutrients allows for a better understanding of their function in the body. General functions of these nutrients will be outlined, and more specifically, the role of carbohydrate, protein, and fat as it pertains to exercise and activity. This chapter identifies food sources of these nutrients that contribute to optimal health and performance. Fluids are a fourth nutrient essential for optimal health as well as for supporting athletic performance. In this chapter, hydration needs of the athlete will be discussed as well as methods to assess hydration status.
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Sports nutritionists have a unique role in bridging the gap between science and implementation of evidence-based recommendations. Extensive research has developed a set of evidence-based practices to help athletes optimize their performance, though research continues to evolve and these recommendations are far from static. One of the primary tenets of weight loss relates to carbohydrate intake; as this is the primary source of energy for high-intensity training, athletes need to be educated on the importance of consuming enough carbohydrate, and at the appropriate time. Protein intake and timing of intake is also important, considering its role relative to skeletal muscle adaptation and recovery from exercise. Stored body fat and dietary triglycerides serve as an energy source at rest and during low-intensity exercise. Dietary fat is also required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. However, athletes should be wary of consuming too much fat as it can displace dietary carbohydrate and protein. Athletes must also pay attention to hydration status and maintain euhydration. Hydration needs can be met in numerous ways, and best hydration practices are still being investigated. It is important to consider these recommendations within the context of a meal plan and not as isolated components, and the weight lossist needs to integrate these nutrients in a consequential and practical way.
Translating available research on nutrition for sport and activity and applying it in a meaningful way to athletes is an art as much as it is a science. Nutrition has profound effects on performance, from providing fuel for muscular contraction and movement, to supplying the brain with adequate fuel so that it can focus, concentrate, and strategize. Nutritional strategies can ensure that physical training yields growth of lean muscle mass and increased cardiovascular capacity. It is through nutritional practices that one achieves desired body composition changes. Nutrition has a considerable impact on overall health and immune functioning, which allows athletes to continue to train and avoid unnecessary periods of illness.
Overall, following effective nutrition recommendations supports athletes in realizing their athletic potential. Yet, these benefits are only seen if athletes have been educated on the best practices of sport nutrition. Athletes must then practice effective nutrition strategies on a daily basis through training and develop a fine-tuned game plan for implementation on race day.
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