Fat, Carbs, and Protein - Balancing Nutrition When Working Out

Fat, Carbs, and Protein - Balancing Nutrition When Working Out

If you’re like most people, fitness isn’t what you live for so much as it’s something you do. And there’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest. Taking care of your physical health through weightlifting, cardio training, yoga, and any of the other litany of physical exercises will always be beneficial to an overall healthier lifestyle.

Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said, “Abs aren't made in the gym, they are made in the kitchen.” This demonstrates the importance of nutrition in conjunction with fitness. In the specific example, he's talking about the fallacy that constantly doing sit-ups and crunches will give you that killer six-pack. While those exercises are certainly beneficial for core strength and muscle development, if the stomach is covered in too much fat, the abs will never show. A person who works out a lot but eats empty calories (more than they burn off) will likely not see the type of results they’re after.


The 3 Best Nutrients for Fitness

There are many foods that are critical in fitness nutrition. Different diets will have specific considerations and there are some core foods and nutrients that are needed for optimal fitness.


#1 Protein

We’re not sure if you know or not, but we absolutely love protein! Plant-based, dairy, and animal proteins, there is something for everyone. While we’re partial to the plant-based variety, the important thing is that you're getting at least the minimum recommended amount of protein needed to sustain muscle mass. A good rule of thumb to remember is to consume around 0.8 g of protein per pound of body weight. This helps the body repair damaged muscle tissue in order to help it replenish and grow. Bodybuilders and those who are trying to bulk up and increase their overall body mass may need to take in much more protein, depending on their desired body size.
Fun Fact: Protein makes a great pre-workout, but usually, people consume their protein shakes or meals in the first 30 minutes immediately after finishing a workout. This is to help the body start the muscle repair process sooner while also adding in calories that were just burned off. This “anabolic window” is controversial, and one study found that the body responds the same to protein consumption for up to 24 hours post-workout.

#2 Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the digestive track (that glucose is then used for energy in our bodies). Those on the keto diet will get the majority of their energy from fat. For everyone else, a moderate amount of carbohydrates, especially as a pre-workout, can help deliver that extra energy boost needed to push through a tough workout.
Fun Fact: Carbohydrates have been used in many high-intensity nutrition plans for a long time and are a staple in many athletes’ nutritional regimens. For example, a runner may eat a large plate of pasta prior to a marathon with the intention of having enough energy to sustain the long-distance trek ahead. And get this — bodybuilders that perform in stage shows and competitions are notorious for having candy on hand prior to posing. The carbs are said to help make the muscles look more full with increased vascularity.

#3 Fats

Fats get a lot of flak, and we're here to set the record straight. There are two main types of fat, saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are considered “the bad fats” and are usually found in things like fast food, butter, and most junk foods. Unsaturated fats are broken up into two different classifications: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
Monosaturated fats are found in nuts, avocados, pumpkin seeds, and peanut butter.
Polyunsaturated fats, which are familiar to most people as omega–3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are most commonly found in walnuts, fish such as salmon and tuna, and plant-based oils such as corn oil.
Fats are essential for affecting cholesterol levels, both positively and negatively. Eating too many saturated fats can lead to more LDL, which is the “bad” cholesterol. Likewise, the unsaturated fats will help raise HDL, which is the “good” cholesterol. The HDL can transport LDL in the bloodstream and deliver it to the liver where it's processed and discarded.
Fun Fact: Fat is responsible for a lot of the energy needed for bodily functions while resting and also during low-intensity physical activity.


Eating Goals

The combination of exercising along with a great nutrition plan can help us not only look our best but also perform our best. And as always, before starting any diet or fitness plan, be sure to consult with a qualified healthcare professional.