There has been much research over the years in health related fitness to what foods and drinks are taken before exercise, during exercise and even after exercise. There is always some institution that will come out with the latest news about some ground breaking information that will enable all of us to train longer and harder, resulting in a huge changes in our life style. One year a certain food produce is good for us and then the very next year some organization will claim that the very same food stuff is likely to do us more harm than good. The clearest example are performance enhancing drugs. The drugs in their simplest forms are aimed at getting the body to recover quicker after training so that the athlete can train harder and more regularly so improving their performance. History has told us that some world class coaches encourage their athletes to take these illegal substances. Their views are totally opposite to those with equally high class qualifications, who believe that the long term effects of the drugs are so harmful that it is dangerous to take these supplements.
There are certain facts about refueling and health that cannot be argued with and that is regarding hydration. Correct fluid intake certainly effects an athlete’s performance and also in terms of general well-being a dehydrated body is not as healthy as a hydrated body. Sports science has made many researches into the hydration of the body. Many people are just happy to refuel with water, but nowadays people are swamped with information about the benefits of energy drinks. The huge commercial drinks industry has been informing us that as well as the body needing water to be replaced during exercise, it is essential to replace lost nutrients with energy drinks. Energy drinks are basically water with added sugar and flavor and can be best described as “posh squash”. World class athletes who train and perform at intense levels during training and competition do need some form of added supplement during their exercise. But does the every-day performer who is just out taking exercise need to invest in an overpriced drink? The most important fact is that it doesn’t matter whether the person is going for a healthy long walk or partaking in a strenuous aerobic workout in the gym it is essential that they maintain their hydration levels by drinking some form of liquid, and the added cost of investing in a highly priced energy drink will not boost their performance by that much. Information about food can sometimes be as misleading as the feedback the general public receives about their drinks. There are certain food stuffs, such as the banana that is associated with exercise. The fruit contains natural sugars for sustained energy plus they are rich in vitamin B6 which regulates blood glucose levels.
Just as popular as bananas at sports events are man-made food supplements, such as jelly babies and jaffa cakes. The start of the 21st century has seen more and more competitor taking these sweets both before, during and after the activity. The beauty of both foods is that they provide an instant sugar boost and provide instant carbohydrate that enhances performance. Yet in terms of health related fitness too many jelly babies and Jaffa cakes are certainly not good for the individual. The sugars that they provide for exercise are beneficial, yet in a normal life style to much eating of them can lead to weight gain. The most important part of athletes and food consumption is getting the balance right. One of the most enjoyable aspects of running a marathon is visiting the food stations both during the race and after it. There are usually chocolate bars and Danish pastries available for athletes to replace lost nutrients, and the joy of eating roast potatoes half around the “two oceans marathon” in Cape Town almost makes the 34 mile run enjoyable’
The foods that are of benefit during and after exercise must be eaten in moderation during other times as they are likely to lead to weight gain during inactivity.