180 Nutrition: Stress is at an all time high in Australia with almost 5 million Australians being affected by stress in 2017. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on stress levels but before embarking upon a fitness program it is also important to understand the role of nutrition in fitness. How can you compliment your exercise regime with the right nutrition to have improve your sleep?
Exercise More, Sleep More
Most exercises can combats stress by increasing levels of endorphins, the brain’s good mood neurotransmitters, improving your mood and giving you space away from daily pressures. The Department of Health recommends adults are active every day of the week with a total of 2.5-5 hours of vigorous exercise per week alongside 2 sessions of muscle strengthening exercises per week. In order to succeed with an exercise regime and reap the physical and mental benefits, it is important to fuel the body with optimum nutrition.
Increase Aerobic Fitness
When working on increasing aerobic fitness with exercise such as running, swimming or cycling, eating plenty of carbohydrates fuels your body.Good sources of carbohydrates include cereal, pasta, quinoa, whole-grain bread, rice, sweet potato and fruit. Moreover, eating complex carbohydrates also encourages the brain to make the feel-good chemical serotonin and low serotonin levels are associated with poor sleep and high stress levels. Blueberries, a well known superfood, also contain antioxidants which have a positive effect on reactions to stress.
In order to gain muscle mass the key is to eat more protein. Protein-rich foods include fish egg whites, lean meat, poultry, yogurt, milk, tofu and nuts. Turkey, a good source of lean protein, also provides the amino acid tryptophan which is converted into serotonin by the body. When it comes to post-exercise recovery, protein bars are perfect after exercise because they contain nuts and seeds which are also high in tryptophan. Moreover, salmon is a good source of omega-3 fats which play a vital role in emotional well-being with one study showing a 20% reduction in anxiety among participants taking omega-3. There are also indications that omega-3 fats are as effective as antidepressants.
Exercise reduces stress levels and nutrition is a key part of any fitness regime. Complex carbohydrates fuel endurance exercise as well as increasing serotonin levels. Protein contributes to gaining muscle mass with some sources of lean protein also containing stress-busting amino acids.
This article was written by Jane Munro a health enthusiast and freelance writer.