The CDC recommends at least 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity for a minimum of 5 times per week. To promote muscle growth and fat loss, it is important to include both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities throughout each week in addition to a sensible diet. Below are 10 nutrition tips that will compliment a well-balanced exercise routine. (For more information regarding exercise, visit http://www.cdc.gov/physical activity).
1. Be sure to get adequate protein each day, as protein is the building block of muscle. The average, healthy adult needs .8 grams and athletes need 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Example: (130 pound female/2.2 grams per kilogram) x .8 = 47 grams protein/day Figure our your needs now:
_____ divided by 2.2 = _____ x .8 grams per kilogram = ____ weight in pounds weight in kilograms Your Protein Needs
2. Space out your protein throughout the day. Try to eat at least one serving of a high-protein food at each meal and snack. This benefits muscle growth and maintains better blood sugar control, reducing the tendency to feel hungry and tired if blood sugar were to dip. Recent research suggests that many people have very little protein at breakfast, a moderately light serving at lunch and then eat too much at dinner.
3. Choose leaner sources of protein more often in order to limit saturated fat, cholesterol and extra calories. White meat, skinless poultry and fish tend to be leaner than red meat. Skim or 1% milk are lower-fat options compared to 2% or whole milk. When preparing foods, bake, broil, grill, steam, sauté or boil rather than frying in oil or butter.
4. Have a meal or snack containing both protein and carbohydrate within 15-60 minutes after physical activity. This is when blood flow to the muscles is greater, the muscle is more apt to take up glucose, and the cells of the muscle are more sensitive to the effects of insulin. This combination of events within your body better prepares your muscles for the next time you workout.
5. If your goal is to lose weight, coordinate your workout with the timing of one of your regular meals rather than eating an extra snack. This way you can cut out extra calories while still replenishing your body after exercise.
6. Do not rely on protein shakes or protein powder as a post-exercise beverage. These products tend to contain much more protein than our body can use at one time to build muscle, and that extra protein can be very dehydrating. These products can be costly and are often high in sugar and calories, which would be detrimental to weight control and fat loss.
7. Stay hydrated. Adequate hydration is essential for proper metabolism and to keep you feeling energized during exercise. Our body is two-thirds water, oxygen and nutrient carrying plasma is 90% water and muscles are 75% water. To get the most out of your exercise, your body fluids need to be topped off. Aim for 8 cups of fluid each day, or greater in hot temperatures, high humidity or with vigorous exercise. During exercise, water is the fluid of choice in events lasting less than one hour, followed by electrolyte containing sports drinks when the heat or humidity index rises or prolonged physical activity.
8. Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages such as regular soda and fruit juice as these products are high in calories and can promote weight gain. Also try to limit your intake of caffeinated beverages as these can have a diuretic effect and lead to dehydration and fatigue.
9. Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables contain numerous vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy metabolism both during physical activity and throughout your entire day.
10. Do not severely restrict calories, as this will lead to the breakdown of your muscle in order to be used for energy. Most active women need at least 1,800 calories per day, and most active men need at least 2,200 calories per day.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Should I drink muscle drinks?
- At more than $3.25 per bottle, these products are expensive! Consider that an 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk provides 8 grams of protein, 9 essential nutrients and costs only $0.27 cents.
- Amino acids and protein supplements by themselves do not increase muscle size or strength. Exercise creates small tears in the muscle fiber that repair, growing stronger and larger when you rest and consume a healthy diet.
- Any nutrient, when consumed in excess of your nutritional requirements either gets burned as energy or stored as fat. The body does not redirect excess protein to build bigger muscles.
- Muscle drinks may be dehydrating as your kidneys are forced to work harder to rid of the nitrogen byproducts created by excess protein in your body.
How Much Protein is in This Food?
|1 cup low fat or skim milk = 8 gms||1 ounce low fat cheese = 8 grams||½ cup beans = 8 grams|
|6 ounces plain, low fat yogurt = 5-8 grams||1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese = 16 grams||1 ounce nuts = 6 grams|
|6 ounces plain, low fat Greek yogurt = 14-18 grams||3 ounces lean meat (deck of cards) = 21 grams||½ cup vegetables = 2 grams|
What are Examples of Recovery Snacks or Meals?
- Smoothies made with yogurt and frozen berries
- Graham crackers with peanut butter, low-fat chocolate milk and a banana
- A bowl of cereal with low-fat milk
- Whole wheat pita sandwich stuffed with turkey and shredded veggies, pretzels and low-fat milk
- A bowl of brown rice with diced, white meat chicken and stir-fry veggies, grapes and low-fat milk.
Thanks to MSU dietetic intern, Emily Vong for creating the “Top 10”!