You need to eat well while you’re exercising. Otherwise, you’re simply not going to get all the benefits possible from your activities. But it’s worth finding out how precisely you should eat when you’re exercising.It’s not enough to say “eat well” – you need to know what nutrients your body actually requires!
Many people may cringe upon hearing the word “sodium” in relation to health; they know it essentially means you need to think about the inclusion of salt in your diet. But isn’t that a big no-no? Actually, exercise makes you lose sodium very quickly, and if you don’t replenish that sodium then you can experience cramps. Low sodium levels in the long-term can cause hyponatremia. That’s why sports drinks have added salt in them!
When you don’t get enough zinc, your oxygen intake can become negatively affected. So if your exercise is focused largely on cardiovascular and endurance activities (and what good exercise routine doesn’t at least feature these things?), then you need to pay attention to your zinc levels. It’s also great for helping to keep testosterone levels up, which is something that will become increasingly important for men approaching middle-age! Chickpeas, spinach, cashews, and mushrooms are fantastic ways to get zinc into your system. (Psst – so is dark chocolate!)
If you’re working on cardiovascular activities, then you need to keep your heart healthy. And there are few nutrients out there better at protecting your heart than omega-3. To many, this means you need to consume fish and fish oil – something that worries vegetarians and vegans! But omega-3 can be found in abundance in berries, seeds, mangoes, and leafy greens. Precisely the kind of things you can combine in a Ninja blender to make a tasty and nutrient-packed smoothie!
When you exercise vigorously, you’re actually putting your bones through quite the ringer. Those frequent hard impacts that accompany running can cause problems if you’re not keeping up your bone strength. Calcium is usually considered the obvious nutrient when it comes to bone strength, but you mustn’t forget about magnesium. It also helps you retain muscle strength. After all, your muscles take similar punishment during rigorous exercise! Avocados and bananas are great sources – they’re also rich in potassium, helping you maintain your energy levels. (Psst – dark chocolate also contains a lot of magnesium! Seriously, don’t underestimate dark chocolate. But, y’know, don’t pig out on it, either.)
Vitamins B, C, D, and E
It might be a safe assumption that you need all the lettered vitamins when you’re exercising regularly. But it’s good to understand why these ones, in particular, are so important. Vitamin B helps you metabolize fats and proteins, an essential function for people who exercise. (Vegans will probably need to take supplements to keep their levels up!) Vitamin C helps prevent shortness of breath during and after exercise, so stock up on oranges and grapefruit!
Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – helps the mitochondria in your muscles regenerate energy during exercise. This helps you maintain endurance. As for vitamin E – well, vitamin E is just really good at preventing illness. And few things disrupt your exercise routine quite like being ill!
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.