Working out: Why the right diet matters

Today’s lifestyle habits have exposed people to the risk of developing different diseases, especially associated with bad eating habits. These include chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and stroke. To avoid this, they say, it is necessary to reduce extra weight and maintain a normal weight.

Today’s lifestyle habits have exposed people to the risk of developing different diseases, especially associated with bad eating habits. These include chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and stroke. To avoid this, they say, it is necessary to reduce extra weight and maintain a normal weight.

Among many ways of maintaining a good normal weight, experts say is exercising. Regular physical exercise burns excess calories, thus preventing obesity and helps to reduce extra weight. Brisk walking, jogging, aerobics, swimming, yoga, sports and games are just some of the exercises that help reducing weight. However, they warn that even when exercising, people must eat right to remain health.

Why a good diet is important while working out

Well, did you know that when exercising, one needs to eat well to avoid cases of being feeling fatigue and getting disoriented from low blood sugar? According to Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, what you eat before and after every exercise is important as it helps prepare your body well for the next workout.

For instance, he explains that when working out, the muscles rely on carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables for quick energy. Therefore, including them in your diet is important.

“When exercising, one also needs proteins which bring nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and blood cells. Also, one requires taking in plenty of fluids to help the body perform well during the work-out,” he says.

Tabaro, however, notes that water acts as the body’s cooling system, which prevents one from getting dehydrated, therefore the best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of fluids. Drinking about two glasses of water every two hours before exercise is essential.

When exercising in a hot environment and for long hours, Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetic Association, says a lot of water and other energy giving drinks may be of help.

He explains that this is because such drinks are capable of giving one carbohydrates and sodium as well as fluids. For those who play sports like soccer, such drinks are also a good choice because such people tend to sweat a lot thus taking energy giving drinks may be a good option than water.

Depending on the type of exercise, Musengimana notes that one can only take water before starting. For instance, he says walking and jogging are simple exercises and not strainers, thus a glass of water before starting can work wonders. However, for more intense exercises, one should first consume foods that are easily digestible like breakfast with a lot of fibre-rich foods, fruits and water.

He explains that such a diet will be able to provide the energy needed for one to carry out any particular exercise.

After exercise

Joseph Uwiragiye, the head of the nutrition department at University Teaching Hospital Kigali (CHUK), says after doing exercise, it’s important to consume foods that are rich in proteins like beans, milk and eggs, among others.

“The reason for this is because such foods are capable of helping one’s muscles recover and grow after exercise,” he says.

On the other hand, Tabaro points out that someone who is working out needs to also focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins as much as possible.

“This is because such foods contain bioactive compounds that provide health benefits that are essential for the body in general,” he says.

Again, Tabaro notes that combining complex carbohydrates and proteins whenever possible is important, especially when it comes to maintaining the blood sugar levels. Additionally, he says one should also maintain good hydration levels throughout training, which help metabolise nutrients.

“It’s also important for one to be in a position to learn how to time food intake for their own body,” he adds. This, Tabaro says, helps one to know what time is best for them to take certain meals.

Dried fruits are also essential for people who are working out, according to Uwiragiye. This is because they are easy to store and are nutritious too. They prove a quick energy boost from the carbohydrates in both the dried fruit and sustained energy from the fat and proteins in the nuts.

Another fruit that should be consumed in large quantities, he says, is watermelon.

Uwiragiye points out that this can work as a snack.

“This fruit contains almost 92 per cent water which is ideal for rehydrating. Watermelon is also the best when it comes to sore-muscle relief. An amino acid in watermelon called citrulline has been shown to help maintain healthy blood vessels, increase nitric oxide, and improve blood flow to all tissues,” he says.

 

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