Eating well throughout the day is vital for sustaining your energy levels and thus a successful exercise regime. Follow the lead of Springbok rugby player Jan Serfontein: “It’s important to eat correctly before training so that my energy is sustained for the entire session,” he says. “And if I don’t eat correctly during the day, I definitely feel a difference in my performance.”
Balancing your diet by eating food from all food groups is vital for every person, whether you exercise a lot or not, says registered dietician Zikhona Spelman. “Different food groups offer different benefits in maximising performance during an exercise session,” she explains. “For example, low-GI carbohydrates and fats provide energy, while protein is the best food source for muscle building and repair after intense physical activity.”
When you exercise more than usual, your energy intake might need to be increased to match the new energy requirements. However, this doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you like, even if you’re more active than usual. The key, according to Spelman, is to maintain a balance between food intake and energy output, and here an eating plan is essential. While there’s no single approach that will suit everyone’s needs, she recommends eating regularly throughout the day – three small meals, and healthy snacks in between – to maintain a constant energy level. After all, low blood-sugar levels can lead to unhealthy food cravings and, in some cases, insulin resistance.
And while diet is key, there are also a number of supplements on the market specifically designed to help boost energy levels, build lean muscle mass and heal faster. The GNC range at Clicks includes a variety of vitamins, minerals and sports supplements to boost your health and performance.
Spelman offers her top tips for a balanced diet while getting fit:
- Before you exercise, eat low-GI carbohydrates with a little protein and fat. The carbs and fat ensure you have enough energy, while the protein minimises muscle-tissue damage.
- Intense exercise can lower your immunity, so it’s crucial that you eat more fruit and vegetables.
- When snacking, pay careful attention to portion size, which shouldn’t exceed about 500 kilojoules or a hand-sized portion. Some healthy snacks include mixed nuts, plain yoghurt and popcorn (prepared at home without butter or artificial flavours).
Clicks' Smartbite range is portion-controlled to make snacking healthy, delicious and guilt-free. With smaller portions, each snack contains fewer kilojoules, making it perfect as part of a healthy diet. Look out for the Smartbite range in stores.
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