Physical Activity and Nutrition

Nutrition is critically linked to physical activity and performance. An adequate and balanced diet, when accompanied by regular exercise, can eliminate the risk of many diseases.

How much energy is needed depends on the type, frequency and intensity of exercise. It is best if an individual exercising is able to maintain a healthy weight, and the exercise must not have an adverse effect on the performance, nor create a risk of injury or chronic disease. For gaining or losing weight, between 0.5 to 1 kilogram per week is a suitable target, and a realistic and appropriate body weight and period should be applied. Weight gain and loss must be accomplished in the right way and under the supervision of a dietitian. Carbohydrates provide the main source of energy for the body during exercise. Therefore, people who are exercising should increase their consumption of carbohydrates. Approximately 55 to 65 percent of energy should be obtained from this source. It is important to include high-complex carbohydrates high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, such as brown bread, bulgur, rice, pasta, grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit.

In contrast to popular belief, when exercising, the body does not need a large amount of protein or excessive fat restrictions. Eating more protein than is necessary does not help to increase muscle mass. It is recommended that 12 to 15 percent of energy in the diet comes from proteins. Certain health problems may arise if fats make up less than 15 percent of the diet.

Fluid loss in the body lessens performance. Therefore, it is useful to drink a sufficient amount of liquid before, during and after exercise.

Recommendations for fluid intake:

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink.
Increase your fluid intake before, during and after exercise.
In hot weather, stay hydrated by drinking more fluids.
Performance can also fall as a result of being too full or hungry before exercising. Have favorite foods and drinks you have tried before between two and four hours prior to exercising. The fundamental idea is to make sure you stay hydrated and eat foods that are low in fat and high in fiber, and contain high-complex carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein.

Drink one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes to make up for fluids lost during exercise. Additionally, during intense exercises that last longer than one hour without a break, it is beneficial to selects drink with electrolytes and a carbohydrate content of six to eight percent under the supervision of an expert.

Right after exercising, have food and drinks that contain carbohydrates in order to replenish emptied reserves, and drink lots of water to replace lost fluids. People who exercise can get all the vitamins and minerals they need through a sufficient and balanced diet. This means vitamin and mineral supplements are usually unnecessary. Speak to a doctor before starting to take supplements, and avoid their indiscriminate use.

Things to Remember When Exercising:

Maintain a diet with enough energy to preserve your desired weight and appropriate to your body type.
Consume a balanced selection of items from all food groups.
Increase nutritional diversity.
Increase your consumption of high-complex carbohydrates.
Eat less saturated fats.
Avoid excessive salt, tea and sugar.
Try to include more wholegrain foods and legumes.
Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Instead of a short term diet, choose a diet with healthy guidelines you can continue in the long term.
Eat three main meals and two to three snacks with 2 to 3 hours between each.
Don’t skip meals, and don’t stay hungry for long periods.
Increase your fluid intake before, during and after exercise.

Dietary Guidelines for Turkey, 2004


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