“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” We’ve all heard the adage in response to facing adversity. When something negative is introduced to our bodies, be it disease or trauma, it could kill us. But if we are lucky enough to survive it, we come out stronger. But what if we look at it differently and assume the stimulus is positive, not negative? A positive stimulus probably WILL NOT kill you. If anything it may make you stronger. We’ll expand on that shortly. Let us consider fitness. We all try to get fitter. Some are either already fit and others are at the beginning of a fitness journey. Previously we discussed that good nutrition was paramount, and an understanding of how we feed our bodies was key to maintenance. Here we begin to discuss why.
We all have goals. We want to lower our percentage body fat, turn that fat into muscle i.e. be more toned, and be more efficient at burning up energy (calories). As we get older throughout life the amount of lean muscle in our bodies begins to decrease. What happens when the lost muscle is not replenished is that fat takes its place - according to data from the Mayo Clinic in the USA. So what can you do to ensure that this outcome is stopped? Simple, as you begin to exercise, incorporate a significant amount of strength training into your workout. Increasing your strength as you start to work towards becoming fitter has various benefits including, improving stamina during exercise, strengthening bones, and managing weight if weight loss is the goal.
Muscle is made up of bundles of fibres densely packed together. In each fibre is millions of specialised “batteries” called mitochondria that power them, using the food you eat to generate energy. This process of generating energy is called metabolism. The more muscle fibres you have the more energy is being generated (the higher your metabolism). Obviously the process of growing muscle involves exercise. But the process is strange because by exercising, you are destroying these bundles of fibres. The body then repairs these fibres, making them bigger or by making new fibres to patch up the breaks. As a result the muscle grows and you get stronger. Just like you need nutrients for exercise; it is even more essential that nutrients are available during this phase of rebuilding. Once rebuilt you now have more batteries that need more energy because you have more fibres or larger fibres. Therefore the energy requirements increase because your muscles are producing more energy. Ever wonder why you feel hungrier as you exercise more and more. This is why!
Once again, we ask, what and how should we be eating? You should aim to get a balance of nutrients. But this will differ in proportions depending on your fitness goals. Nutrient amounts and the types of training will be addressed in our last discussion. However if you are growing muscle, it is very important to “refuel”. Have a meal or snack that is high in carbohydrate but moderate in protein. This might confuse many, because protein is known to be the stuff that grows your muscles. Well yes, but protein is made of smaller components called amino acids. When you eat, the protein is broken down into these components but the process of using them to build muscle requires a lot of energy. Energy for muscle building comes from carbohydrates mainly glucose. So supplying glucose to the muscles is very important, which is why carbohydrate content must be higher. Does that mean you sit with a bag of sugar after a workout? No but healthier foods can be eaten instead of processed sugars. This will be discussed next time. Coupling the positives STRENGTH TRAINING and GOOD ADEQUATE NUTRITION WILL NOT KILL YOU, but it WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER.