Basic Nutrition for Aspiring Fitness Models
Katherine Baqleh is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and is the founder of Health Victory Nutrition Experts. Katherine practices in a number of locations across Sydney and is involved in conducting nutrition, health and wellness seminars, nutrition consultancy and providing expert commentary to the media.
Find Health Victory Nutrition Experts on Facebook, follow @KatherineBaqleh on Twitter or visit www.healthvictorynutrition.com.au.
Becoming a Fitness Model – A Nutrition Perspective
There is more to becoming a fitness model than just the training. In order to achieve your body composition and fitness goals, optimise your training results and to avoid fatigue, nutrition and hydration are key principles to consider. Everyone’s fitness goals are different, as are their taste preferences, so there is no one single ideal meal or snack to consume before, during or after training. However, there are a few basic guidelines to support and enhance your progress.
Foods to enjoy for overall health and wellbeing:
Protein is important for muscle growth and repair. However, it is not the only nutrient required for maximum training results. There are five food groups, namely breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables, dairy and alternatives and meat and alternatives. Each food group offers a different nutrition profile and each group is crucial for the fuel, repair and recovery of active bodies.
It is important that every meal contains good quality lean proteins, good quality carbohydrates (especially wholegrain and wholemeal varieties), vegetables and/or salad and healthy fats. Isolated soy protein and animal based proteins such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy are recommended wherever possible as they contain all the essential amino acids needed by your body, making them high biological value proteins. Plant based proteins such as those found in nuts, tofu, legumes, some vegetables and fruit, are considered to be of lower biological value. To help promote muscle gains and minimise muscle breakdown after training, it is recommended to spread protein across the day, especially in the hour following exercise.
Consume a meal that contains carbohydrates (fuel source) and is easy to digest (low fat and low fibre) two hours before training, such as a bowl of cereal with chopped fruit and honey, fruit and yoghurt, pasta in a tomato based sauce, fruit smoothie, rice, porridge with fruit, or raisin toast or crumpet with fruit, jam or honey.
Nutrition during training:
In general, exercise sessions lasting less than 60 minutes will not need extra fuel or carbohydrates. Longer training sessions will require extra fuel to maintain blood glucose levels, such as bananas and sports energy bars, to assist you in sustaining intensity and refuelling the muscles and brain. The volume of food required depends on a number of factors including the duration and intensity of your workout, as well as individual tolerance and taste preferences.
Fluid intake during training is essential to avoid dehydration. Requirements are individualised according to your sweat rate and the conditions under which you train. Depending on your training goals, water or electrolyte drinks are often the ideal fluids. Otherwise sports drinks containing carbohydrates can be used as a source of fuel and hydration.
Nutrition post training:
Recovery nutrition fuels and rehydrates the body to promote muscle repair and growth, adaptation, improved immune function and improved performance at the next training session. A dietitian will individualise the advice according to the type, duration, frequency of and time between the training sessions, as well as body composition goals. Ideally, a lean protein and quality carbohydrate based meal should be consumed within the first 60-90 minutes of working out, alongside a source of fluid and electrolytes. Quick ideas for recovery nutrition could be a smoothie or fruit yoghurt (with additions such as nuts, seeds, oats and peanut butter) or milk with Milo. Other options include tuna on seeded crackers with a piece of fruit, pasta bolognaise or muesli with fruit and yoghurt.
Protein is not only found in both animal and plant-based foods but is also available in a variety of supplement powders, drinks and protein bars. Protein supplements are not essential for everyone but may be helpful as part of the overall nutrition plan. The amino acid ‘leucine’ stimulates muscle protein synthesis, with highest levels found in milk (and whey protein) and red meat. Just 2-3g of leucine is equivalent to 20-25g of high biological value protein in terms of its capacity to stimulate protein synthesis.
Although heavily training endurance athletes, strength athletes and individuals are training to try and gain muscle mass, all have higher protein requirements and normal eating habits are often enough to meet requirements. It is strongly advised that athletes consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian to ensure that their protein and overall energy requirements are met, especially in athletes that follow vegan or vegetarian diets or do not consume dairy. Are all protein powders the same? The answer to this is NO, making it important to have a plan tailored for you by a Dietitian.
Foods to avoid:
There are no foods that we should avoid completely as part of a healthy diet. Healthy eating does allow for the occasional treat and when consumed at an appropriate time it is unlikely to affect your training results and recovery.
Energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods such as processed and take-away meals, deep-fried foods, desserts, soft drinks, creams and butters should be limited, as well as fatty meats and full fat dairy.
To optimise your training potential and to help you reach your health and fitness goals, get personalised nutrition advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
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