Any form of exercise increases the metabolic demands of the body and puts it into a catabolic state. If nutrition is not in alignment with your workouts, the body will start eating up its own reserves, hence causing nutrient loss. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Muscle wasting is one typical case where the body breaks down muscle tissues to derive energy leading to muscle loss.
This is how different nutrients affect fitness:
1. Carbohydrates : Being the first source of fuel for the body, carbs are needed both before and after workouts.
Pre-workout: The right kind of carbs help us last the session without running out of energy. For short workouts (HIIT or sprints), eat simple carbs that digest quickly (read fruits, dates, potatoes). Longer workouts or endurance sports need a combination of carbs, fat and/or protein for sustained energy release. You could try combinations like: Fruit + nuts, fruits + nut + butter or sweet potato + coconut oil.
Post workout: Higher GI carbs work best to replenish glucose (read banana, chikoo, dates).
2. Protein: Workouts create micro tears in muscles. Good quality proteins consumed 30-60 mins after a workout can help body recover better. Sattu, eggs, whey, get absorbed into blood and reach muscles quicker. Slower digesting proteins like rice, beans, lentils, chicken or fish can be included in the meals as well.
3. Fats: The good ones only! From recovery, fat burn to hormone balance, good fats have lots to offer. Omega 3 also helps recovery, is anti-inflammatory and maintains cardiovascular health. Eat nuts, seeds, fatty fish for that.
4.Vitamins & Minerals: This is where micro-nutrients shine! Vitamins A & C protect from negative stress workouts and create and boost immunity. Vitamin D maintains bone health and immunity which goes a long way if you are into heavy training. B complex vitamin helps metabolising carbs, fat, proteins and Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant.
Minerals: Common ones are iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Other minerals like sodium, chloride and potassium are particularly necessary for individuals with high sweat losses. Coconut water is the best natural sports drink you can take.