You’ve got your workouts down and you’re covering all your bases for strength, cardiovascular and flexibility training. Now you’re wondering what the next step is to ensure you can be your best when breaking a sweat? We asked Michelle Bourgeous, a Certified Sport Nutrition Advisor, for a few tips that may help you step up your game.
First, add a quality fish oil source into your daily plan. Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and most folks don’t get nearly enough. The average North American gets 1/16 to 1/20 of the recommended daily requirement.
Omega-3’s are vital for cardiovascular health, nervous system function and brain development, immune health and fat loss. I’ve worked with individuals who have struggled with depression, anxiety, stress and chronic inflammation and Omega 3’s are a definite must. Look for a supplement that provides a minimum of two to three grams of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) combined.
If you’ve tried fish oil in the past and found yourself smelling like a trout most of the day, there are some emulsified flavored fish oil products available that taste great and get the job done.
Take a daily probiotic supplement. Have you ever struggled with less than optimal gastrointestinal issues? You know: diarrhea, gas, bloating, constipation, nausea, stomach cramps etc. If the answer is “Yes” then chances are you have an imbalance in your gut flora.
Things like not eating enough fruit, vegetables and/or dietary fiber; food intolerance (such as a gluten or dairy); taking antibiotics; a stressful lifestyle, which can include stress from relationships, finances, travel – even intense regular exercise; eating a diet high in acid-forming foods such as processed foods, sugar, white flour, artificial sweeteners, etc. can make your intestines less than happy.
Check out your daily protein intake. Choose a few days and journal your food choices and really see how much of this vital macronutrient you are ingesting. For most, it’s not enough to provide the needed building blocks the body needs for muscle repair and growth, immune function, hormone production, as well as blood and neurotransmitter production.
When you don’t have enough protein in your diet your body breaks down its own muscle tissue to get the protein it needs to survive. Which means you lose muscle mass, joint support and ultimately, a decreased metabolism. That’s not great if being, or staying, lean is one of your goals.
To maintain the necessary body functions that protein is responsible for, we need about one gram per pound of lean body mass per day. For most women, this averages about *80 to 100 grams per day and for most men it’s about *120 to 160 grams per day. For very active individuals, I suggest *one gram of protein for each pound of body weight per day.
Consider a daily multivitamin. Multivitamin supplements have been endorsed by the most respected medical organizations in the world for their ability to help reduce the risk of nutrient deficiency. Vitamins and minerals are essential for normal body functions and disease prevention. It’s rare to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs from our food intake alone.
The elderly, athletes, individuals struggling with lower income (and unable to afford healthy food options), and those restricting calories to lose weight are often most in need of nutritional support from a multivitamin.
If you choose to add a vitamin/mineral supplement, look for one providing nutrients derived from whole foods. Make sure this includes natural forms of vitamin E rather than the synthetic versions. Vitamin A should come from precursors like carotenoids and not preformed retinoids.
Contact Michelle Bourgeois RT, Trainer, Sports Nutritionist at Take 2 Personal Training and Nutritional Consulting, take2personaltraining.com
*Individuals with sub-optimal kidney function should comply with their physician’s recommendations for protein intake.