To get to the best physical shape, fueling your body is as important as training it. Eating the right foods at the right times can optimize your physical performance and give you a competitive advantage.

While dietary needs vary from sport to sport, one formula holds true: a healthy diet should contain carbohydrates for fuel, protein to build and repair muscle, and fluids to cool the body. This is the best diet for people who are active and not so active, but want to stay strong and energetic.

What is the best diet for active people who exercise

A fit body is also based on meeting your daily requirements for vitamins and minerals, some of which change once you reach 50. Use this nutrition guide to help you stay in shape at age 50 and over.

1. Increase your internal fuel with carbohydrates

High carbohydrate foods send glucose into your bloodstream for immediate energy; the rest is stored in the muscles as glycogen, the main fuel for all types of exercise. The more glycogen your muscles store, the longer you can keep training before feeling tired.

Include foods rich in carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread, pasta, cereals, rice, fruits, legumes, and high-quality dairy products at all meals and snacks.

During exercise, consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour to help conserve muscle glycogen . The sports drinks homemade , energy bars, energy gels, bananas and fig bars work well.

2. Increased protein

Protein needs increase with exercise, but not dramatically. Protein is used to repair muscle tissues and support a healthy immune system.

Endurance athletes require approximately 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day, while strength athletes require 1.3 grams per kilogram.

Good sources of protein include lean meat, chicken, fish, egg whites, beans, tofu, and whey protein. But don’t overdo it. There is a limit to the rate at which protein can be synthesized in muscle.

Excess protein will be burned for energy or stored as fat.

3. Fuel and recovery

pre-workout snack , eaten an hour or two before exercise, can help reduce muscle tissue damage from weight training.

After any workout, eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes, and again two hours later, to help your muscles recover, grow, and re-energize.

Smart options for snacks before and after exercise include yogurt and fruit, an energy bar, or a small sandwich with lean protein. If you opt for a protein shake, mix it with a carbohydrate source like milk, soy drink, or unsweetened fruit juice.

4. Drinking is one of the best diets for active people

Drinking adequate fluids is essential for the best athletic performance. Even mild dehydration can cause early fatigue during exercise. Every day, women should consume nine cups (2.2 liters) and men 13 cups (3 liters) of liquid.

While you exercise, drink 125 to 175 milliliters of water every 10 to 15 minutes. Sports drinks (preferably use those that don’t contain as much added sugar or choose to make your own) are recommended during exercise that lasts more than an hour to help replace lost fluids and electrolytes. They also supply glucose to the muscles that work for energy. After exercise, replenish lost fluids by drinking 500 milliliters of fluid for every pound (90 grams) of body weight lost.

5. Increase calcium

By age 50, your daily calcium requirements increase from 1,000 milligrams to 1,500 milligrams. Getting enough calcium, along with a daily supplement of 1,000 IU of vitamin D, will help keep your bones strong and prevent stress fractures.

Unless you are drinking five cups of milk a day (1,500 milligrams of calcium) which is a lot, you will have to rely on supplements to ensure adequate intake.

6. Get vitamin B12 if you are on an active diet

Reaching 50 also affects your vitamin B12 status. This vitamin is a nutrient that helps convert protein and carbohydrates into energy that muscles can use. Even a small deficiency in vitamin B12 can reduce performance and recovery.

Studies suggest that up to 30 percent of people over the age of 50 may not make enough stomach acid to adequately absorb B12 from food. The recommended daily intake is 2.4 micrograms.

7. Includes iron

Men and women require eight milligrams of iron each day to help maintain high energy and focus. Good sources of iron include red meat, enriched breakfast cereals, whole grain breads, dried fruits, legumes, and nuts. A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement will also help you meet your daily iron needs.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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