Energy Requirements for Exercise



If you are doing a lot of exercise or training each day then it goes without saying that your body will need more energy than it would if you were doing nothing. When you exercise the body must begin producing energy at a much faster rate than when it is resting. The heart will beat faster in order to pump blood more rapidly around the body, the lungs work harder, and your muscles will begin to contract.

All of this will use up your stored energy at a faster rate than normal, and for this reason, individuals such as athletes who are not trying to lose weight will need to consume extra food each day so that what they eat and what they burn remains in balance.

Individuals who do, do a lot of training should not use this as a license to gorge on unhealthy foods, but should aim to increase portion sizes of carbohydrate rich foods like porridge, wholegrain pasta and brown rice, as carbohydrates will help to fuel your exercise regime.

Many nutrition experts recommend that you wait between one and four hours after you have eaten a meal or snack until you exercise, as this gives the body time to digest the food. Obviously the more you eat the longer the digestion process will take to set in, meaning snacks will not require a great deal of time to begin digesting where as a three course meal will take much longer.

It is thought that an average sized meal, eaten no more than two hours before exercise provides the best results. The meal should contain some form of carbohydrate, should be low in fat and should not contain too much protein as this may work to slow down stomach movements and could leave you feeling uncomfortable.

Staying well hydrated whilst exercising is also extremely important. When the body’s water content falls below it’s normal level this can have an impact on performance. If you are exercising for longer than 30 minutes then you should be drinking fluid whilst doing it and ideally should be keeping fluid levels topped up throughout the day.

Eating and staying well hydrated are also essential to the training and exercise recovery process. Once individuals have completed a training session they should aim to have a snack which is rich in carbohydrates within at least 30 minutes as this will help to promote muscle repair and growth.

In order to ensure that your body is well prepared for exercise and training, understanding that different foods can provide different types of energy is important. It is also important to take into account the type of training and it’s intensity, as this will also be a factor when determining a suitable nutrition programme.

If you are interested in tailoring your nutrition to help you to maximise your training potential then a qualified nutritionist could help you to do this.