The connection between fitness and nutrition has long been emphasized, and for good reason. Whether you are taking up yoga to improve a health condition, de-stress, or get energized, eating the proper quantity and balance of nutrients is essential to achieving your goals. Consuming the right types and amounts of nutrients and fluid helps you to exercise for longer and at a higher intensity. It also aids in muscle recovery after workouts, improves strength, increases energy levels, helps to maintain healthy immune function, and reduces the risk of injury and heat cramps.
Fueling for fitness
Our bodies need fuel to function, and the harder we push ourselves the more fuel we require. Professional athletes and marathon runners utilize carbohydrate loading and require hundreds of excess calories to keep them performing at their peak. But for most of us, who work out less than four times a week at low to moderate intensity, it is not necessary to take these drastic measures. Instead, as you begin practicing yoga, focus on consuming small meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Look to take in a healthy combination of carbohydrates and protein with small amounts of fat and fiber. For example, try eating a nut butter sandwich on whole-wheat toast with an apple, or a serving of Greek yogurt with fruit and low-fat granola approximately three to four hours before exercising. Then, about one half hour to an hour before working out, eat a whole fruit like a banana or orange and drink a full glass of water. The proper timing and intake of these nutrients will enhance your workout and the benefits you receive from it.
After a workout, carbohydrates help to replenish muscle fuel lost during exercise, while protein aids in the repair of damaged muscle tissue and the development of new tissue. Aim to eat a meal or snack 15 to 60 minutes after engaging in physical activity. Some healthful meal suggestions include a chicken or vegetable stir-fry, whole-wheat pita with turkey, hummus, and salad, or a brown rice bowl with beans and steamed vegetables. If you are on the go and cannot prepare a healthful meal within the hour, stock your gym bag with nutritional supplements. A variety of bars on the market contain a balanced blend of carbohydrates, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals.