Facts on How Food & Exercise Work With Each Other

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Food is fuel for your body. Eating the right foods every day is better for you than dieting for a little while and will maximize your performance. You need the right amino acids to build muscle and repair tissues that get damaged during exercise. You need the right type and amount of nutrition to effectively transport and use vitamins and minerals so you can feel, look and do your best.

Your exercise effectiveness depends largely on your diet.
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Carbs, fats and protein are macronutrients that your body needs to function and to drive tissue repair. Your body converts carbohydrates to glycogen, which is an immediately available fuel that is burned quickly during exercise. When glycogen stores are depleted, your body burns fat and eventually protein for energy. You need adequate protein for muscle growth and tissue repair. Fatty acids are a necessary component of a healthy diet; they function in weight maintenance and in cognitive performance, so you're feeding your body as well as your mind.

Your basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which you burn calories when you're doing nothing, remains elevated for up to 48 hours after you complete a strength-training workout. Lean muscle has a higher metabolic requirement for maintenance than fat does, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn -- all the time. Adequate protein intake is important so that your body doesn't turn to using your own muscle tissue as an energy source.

Resistance training boosts your metabolism.
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The stress that exercising places on your body can be damaging to joints and bones. Your diet is a contributing factor to the rate at which your bones and joints recover from strain. You can literally break your bones by engaging in exercise when your diet is low in calcium-enriched foods. Long-term damaging effects can also become of concern in the form of osteoporosis and bone disease. Supplements help, but the vast amount of absorption of the nutrient will come from your food choices. These foods can include dairy, vegetables, beans, oranges, tofu and many other easily absorbed calcium-rich foods. Certain exercise routines, such as yoga, can improve bone density and reduce osteoporosis risk in adults.

When you exercise longer than about 30 minutes, you burn through glycogen stores and begin to use fat as a source of fuel. Exercising in the anaerobic range, which is when your body is not using oxygen for energy, burns through glycogen quickly and can result in lactic acid buildup. Regular training can make your body more efficient at burning a combination of glycogen and fat so that you can workout longer without feeling fatigued.

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