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Home Healthy Diet
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Healthy Diet PDF Print E-mail

Eating

 

It is about building strong foundations a house is built on strong foundations to remain structurally sound for many years. By comparison an Athlete or fighter must also build a strong nutritional foundation and muscular fitness, strength and performance will follow.

Remember that to have a healthy diet, most people should be eating:
  • plenty of fruit and veg
  • plenty of starchy foods such as rice, bread, pasta (try to choose wholegrain varieties when you can) and potatoes
  • some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs and pulses
  • some milk and dairy foods
  • just a small amount of foods high in fat, salt and sugar
It's also important to eat a variety of foods to make sure we get all the nutrients our bodies need.

 

If you want to get the balance of your diet right, use the eatwell plate. The eatwell plate makes healthy eating easier to understand by showing the types and proportions of foods we need to have a healthy and well balanced diet.


Click on image to enlarge

eatwellplate HeightWeightChart
The eatwell plate Healthy Weight Chart

 

Taking part in sport or just getting physically active will help you burn off excess calories and maintain your body weight. It will also help reduce your risk of many diseases, such as heart disease.

But remember to check with your GP before starting a new exercise programme, particularly if you haven't exercised for some time.

What to eat

Eating a healthy balanced diet will provide you with all the nutrients you need to take part in your favourite sport or activity. This means eating a wide variety of foods.

  • be the right weight for your height
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • eat enough carbohydrate to keep you going during exercise
  • eat plenty of wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables and moderate amounts of milk, yoghurt and cheese, lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and pulses
  • eat enough food for your level of activity. If you eat too little then you won't be able to keep up your exercise levels

Timing of meals around workouts is just as important as what you eat if you want to keep your energy levels up. For the first two hours after exercise, muscles can refuel their glycogen stores twice as fast as normal so it's important to eat carbohydrate-containing foods as soon as possible after a workout or exercise session.

 

Good sources of energy

Carbohydrate is the most important fuel for energy, so you should eat lots of foods that are rich in starchy carbohydrates.
Many different foods contain carbohydrate. The richest sources of carbohydrate are bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes, but other foods also contain useful amounts, such as: fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses, yoghurt and milk.

Carbohydrate is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, and if you get tired during your sport or activity, this might be because your glycogen stores are running low.

The more you exercise, the more carbohydrate you need. The actual amount you need depends upon the type of exercise you're doing, the intensity, duration and frequency of the exercise, and your fitness level.

The bigger the glycogen stores in your muscles, the longer you can perform. So this is particularly important if you do an endurance sport such as marathon running, long distance cycling or fell running.

After exercise, your muscles can refuel their glycogen stores twice as fast as normal, so it's important to eat foods containing carbohydrate soon after you have finished exercising.

Protein and sport

We need protein for our muscles to grow and repair themselves. Protein is also a source of energy.
The amount of protein athletes need has been a topic of huge debate for many years because people who are very active, especially those who train frequently, generally require more protein than those who don't.

However, most people in the UK eat more protein than they need, so even top athletes should be getting enough protein to meet their needs. This means there should be no need for you to increase the amount you eat of foods rich in protein and there is no need to buy protein supplements.

Protein supplements might seem to be scientifically based, but don't be fooled. According to current evidence, taking protein or amino acid supplements doesn't improve performance.

Remember, you should be able to get all the protein you need by eating a variety of foods.

 

Drinking for sport

If you get dehydrated it can stop you getting the most out of your activity, so it's important to make sure you drink enough.

To help keep you hydrated:

  • Don't wait until you feel thirsty
  • Drink lots of water before you start exercising
  • Keep some drinking water to hand so you can reach it whenever you need it while you're exercising
  • Drink plenty of water when you've finished

And remember that the fluid we have when we're exercising should be on top of the usual 1.2 litres (6 to 8 glasses) we need every day in climates such as the UK to stop us getting dehydrated.

If you're exercising for longer than 1.5 hours, try to eat a high-energy snack such as a banana or some dried fruit before you start or during exercise (if this is practical). If you can't manage this, you might find it useful to have some diluted fruit juice or squash to help give you energy.

It's not usually necessary to drink sports drinks just because you're active. Fruit juice mixed with water, well diluted fruit squashes, or juice drinks will hydrate you and give you some energy. But remember that these, like sports drinks, contain lots of sugar, which means they contain extra calories and can lead to tooth decay.

 

How much water do we need?

In climates such as the UK, we should drink approximately 1.2 litres (6 to 8 glasses) of fluid every day to stop us getting dehydrated. In hotter climates the body needs more than this. We also get some fluid from the food we eat.

With Athlete or fighter training plan, we need more than 1.2 liters daily.

 

Sport and supplements

You should be able to get all the nutrients you need from a healthy balanced diet - and remember that taking supplements won't make up for not eating well.

If you decide to take protein supplements, be careful that you're not increasing your energy intake so much that you aren't able to burn it off. If you do this, you'll put weight on - and it might not be put on as muscle but could actually be stored as fat.

 

Source: Food Standards Agency

 

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