Nutrition planning and timing

There should be no doubt that ones physical performance, while exercising, depends much on nutrition planning and timing. If the right nutrients are available at the right time and in adequate amounts for a period of time, positive results can follow.

Energy and macronutrient needs must be met during times of high physical activity, to maintain body weight and physical performance. Especially carbohydrates and proteins are needed to replenish glycogen stores and provide adequate protein to build and repair tissue. Sufficient fat intake should provide the essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as contribute energy for weight maintenance. Regardless of the fact that body weight and composition can affect exercise performance, these physical measures should not be a criterion for sports performance.

Food and fluid should be consumed in proper amounts before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time. One should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses. Sports beverages containing carbohydrates and electrolytes can be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration, provide fuel for muscles, and decrease risk of dehydration.

If adequate energy to maintain body weight is consumed from a variety of foods, vitamin and mineral supplements are not needed. Those who restrict their energy intake, use severe weight-loss practices, eliminate one or more food groups from their diet, or consume unbalanced diets with low micronutrient density, may require supplements. It is recommended that nutritional supplements should be used with caution, and only after careful product evaluation for safety, efficacy, potency, and legality.

Nutrition planning and timing may appear complicated at first, but fact is it isn’t! Smaller meals are recommended, five to seven of them throughout the day. They are prepared faster, and one could even prepare several of them for days to come. Smaller meals are also easier to bring along and fit into short breaks during work. If one adds the dimensions of a well designed workout programme, a high level of discipline and motivation, to nutrition planning and timing, every workout will take you a step closer to your goal.

My nutrition plan and timing is improving all the time and so are my physical achievements. The photos below picture me on 29 October 2011, since then I’ve gained another 0.4 kg lean muscle mass naturally. My training routine fully complies with the WADA 2011 Prohibited List:

I’m turning forty-two years old today and have never been stronger.

Setting and monitoring goals

● Set realistic weight and body composition goals by asking yourself: At what weight and body composition do you perform best? What is the maximum weight that you would find acceptable? What was the lowest weight you maintained without constant dieting? How did you obtain your exercise goals?

● Focus on your healthful habits such as stress management and making good food choices. Not on the scale, daily weigh-ins serve no purpose.

● Monitor your progress by measuring changes in exercise performance and energy level, the prevention of injuries, normal menstrual function (women), and general overall well-being. Log your training results and your nutrition intake!

● Develop lifestyle changes to maintain a healthful weight. Not for the sport, for the coach, for your friends, for your parents, or to prove a point.

Suggestions for food intake

● Low energy intake will not sustain physical activity. Strategies such as substituting lower-fat foods for whole-fat foods, reducing intake of energy-dense snacks, and portion awareness can be useful.

● Fat intake should not be decreased below 15% of total energy intake, because some fat is essential for good health. A negative energy balance may result in reduced physical performance!

● Five to seven small meals daily, including fruits and vegetables to provide nutrients and fiber, is recommended. Emphasize on increased intake of whole grains and cereals, and legumes. Make sure only the best products are consumed – always.

● Don’t skimp on protein and maintain adequate calcium intakes. Consumption of low-fat dairy products and lean meats, fish, and poultry is suggested.

● A variety of fluids, especially water, should be consumed throughout the day, including before, during, and after exercise. Dehydration as a means of reaching a body-weight goal is contraindicated.

Other weight management strategies

● Don’t skip meals and allow yourself to become overly hungry. Be prepared for situations when you might get hungry, keeping nutritious snacks available for those times. A protein drink and a banana or apple is a good combo.

● Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods or set unrealistic dietary rules or guidelines. Instead, dietary goals should be flexible and achievable. Remember that all foods can fit into a healthful lifestyle. Developing list of “good” and “bad” foods is discouraged.

● Let scientific facts help you identify your dietary weaknesses and plan strategies for dealing with them. Only proven science gives you the nutritional and physiological tools to progress into a higher performance level!

● Remember that you are making lifelong dietary changes to sustain a healthful weight and optimal nutritional status rather than going on a short-term diet.