Strategize Your Diet - Part 3
Stay Hydrated - Athletes and non-athletes alike should drink more fluids, especially if you are exercising. One of the first signs of fatigue is due to dehydration. A simple rule is if you are not going to the bathroom at least every 3 hours, then you are probably not drinking enough. That means that you should also increase your fluid intake on hotter days and days of intense exercise. Stay away from sugary and caffeinated beverages though as they act as diuretics, stick to just plain ol' water! It is tough to judge exactly how much you should be drinking sometimes based on weather, exercise intensity, etc. so try this: Weigh yourself before and after an exercise session. The weight you lost will be almost entirely water through sweating and respiration. For every pound of weight lost, drink 3 cups of water (750ml) to re-hydrate your body. You should not always wait until you are thirsty because thirst indicates you are already well on your way to being completely dehydrated!
Don't Be Afraid of Salt - If you exercise intensely, you need salt in your diet as well. Your body keeps a fine balance between water and salt content, so if you are trying to maintain a low-salt diet, your body will just be expelling more and more water to counteract this. Now I am not saying that you need to go overboard and eat a bag of pretzels before a workout, but sports drinks usually do the trick of replenishing your "electrolytes" (salts). Just don't guzzle down a sports drink and then go sit and be an armchair quarterback...that gets us back to "Strategize Your Diet - Part 1" taking in useless carbs!
Get Outside - Many old-school bodybuilders were onto something when they would leave the gym and go soak up some rays. Yes, they were probably just trying to get a nice bronzed look, but research has now shown that some unprotected sun exposure, allowing your body to create Vitamin D the natural way, has many benefits to muscular (and other body parts) health and well-being. If you don't get enough sun, like many northern-climate countries, then taking a supplement will help as well!
Use these, as well as the tips discussed in the previous two posts to help maximize your diet and allow you to reap the most benefits from your exercise program possible! There is a saying in the fitness industry, "You can't out-train a bad diet" so if you are putting in the time in the gym to get fit, why squander those results by not cleaning up your diet too?