sports and exercise are important part of our life to be stay healthy and active. Nutrition for sport and exercise is also very important in this regrade. We should all aim to eat a healthy, varied diet based on the principles of the guide, which matches our energy needs. . This advice also applies whether you go to the gym, swimming, hiking, biking or team sports.

Active lifestyle can only be helped by balanced eating guidelines. Your body can use more energy while exercising. You will find that you must consume more food to give your body the extra energy they need, so you attempt to lose weight.

Eating well for physical activity and sport can have many benefits including:

  • Allowing you to perform well in your chosen sport or activity;
  • Reducing the risk of injury and illness;
  • Ensuring the best recovery after exercise or a training programme.

Foods for fuel and exercise

Carbohydrates

The main role of carbohydrates is to provide energy.

When digested, carbohydrates are broken into glucose, so that the body can use them easily and efficiently. For workouts and sports activities, carbohydrates are the most important source of fuel. The body can store carbohydrates as glycogen in muscles and liver, and use them to provide fuel during physical activity to the brain and muscles. These glycogen shops are limited, therefore at the beginning of each exercise it is necessary to get maximum power. You can feel exhausted and low in strength, so you can not function best, by not having enough carbohydrates in your diet for exercise. The correct food choices can help ensure the body has enough energy for activity, as well as help aid recovery.

Starchy foods are a big source of our diet’s carbohydrates. The types of wholegrain also contain a wide range of vitamins, including B-vitamins, iron, calcium and folate, which are of value for digestive health.

Good sources of carbohydrates in the diet include:

  • Bread
  • Breakfast cereals and porridge oats
  • Pasta, noodles
  • Rice
  • Couscous
  • Potatoes (with skins) and other starchy vegetables (e.g. sweetcorn)
  • Beans and pulses

About one third of the food we consume should be Starchy foods. Fruit and milk contain sugar carbohydrates and can contribute to the fast energy supply of the body. They do have several other vitamins and minerals that help us remain well. Starchy foods, particularly high fiber varieties, give a slower release of energy and take longer time to digest.

Food and drinks that contain high amounts of free sugars, such as sweets, biscuits, cakes and sugars-sweetened soft drinks, should generally be limited as they can lead to excessive calorie intakes which may cause weight gain. Frequent high intake of free sugars can also increase the risk of tooth decay particularly in those with poor dental hygiene. 100% fruit juices also contain free sugars, so limiting intake to a small 150ml glass a day is recommended.

The strength of their operation could be more important for professional sportspeople and athletes than normal gymnasticians. Estimated carbohydrate needs are outlined and depend on the length and intensity of the workouts:

Duration of sport or exercise sessions Recommended intake (per kg body weight per day)*
3-5 hours per week4-5g
5-7 hours per week5-6g
1-2 hours per day6-8g
2 + hours per day8-10g

*These requirements are general and consideration of energy needs and type of exercise should be considered.

Try not to meet your requirements by packing your entire carbohydrate intake into one meal. Spread out your intake over breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that fit around planned exercise.

The table below shows the carbohydrate content of some common foods:

Food sourceServing size Carbohydrate content (g) per serving size
Pasta (boiled)Medium (230g)76
CouscousAverage (150g)56
Rice, wholegrain (boiled)Medium (180g)53
Jacket potato with skin (baked)Large (220g)50
Wholemeal bread2 thick slices (88g)37
Sweet potato, boiled2 medium (130g)27
Banana1 large (120g)24
Porridge, made with low fat milkMedium (160g)19
Crumpet, toasted1 crumpet (40g)18
Oatcakes2 oatcakes (26g)16
SweetcornAverage (80g)11

To read about Nutrition for Sport and Exercise ( Protein ) click here.