Unless you’ve done quite a bit of researching, it’s often difficult to know what you’re supposed to eat and when for optimal effectiveness when working out. I know I’ve wondered many times and attempted to figure it all out more than once (and, I will admit, did not). This article by Mark Taylor will provide you with some great suggestions to help you get all you can out of your workouts.
What To Eat Before, During & After Exercise
Whether you’re a “weekend warrior” trying to stay fit or an athlete training for a marathon, what you eat can affect how you perform. Eating right can give you the edge to help energize your workout. But which foods are best for fitness workout, and which should you avoid? With so many sports drinks, bars, powders, and supplements to choose from, how do you know which are best? Or can you skip the expensive supplements and get everything you need from a well-planned diet?
If you don’t have a nutrition plan for your fitness training routine, you’re doing yourself a pretty big disservice when it comes to getting the results that you desire. If you workout while you’re starved, you simply won’t have the energy for your body to gain maximum fitness. If you exercise for a long time without eating, you’ll limit your ability to burn calories and maintain intensity. And if you don’t feed your muscles and replenish your energy stores after exercise, you won’t have the necessary building blocks for recovery.
- WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT BEFORE EXERCISING?
Fueling exercise requires quality carbohydrates, lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and fluids. Your muscles rely on carbohydrate foods like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables for a quick energy source. Protein is needed to build and maintain muscles and for healthy blood cells. Blood cells deliver nutrients and oxygen to working muscles. The ideal pre-workout meal is consumed about two hours before exercise, contains about 300-500 calories, and is composed primarily of healthy carbohydrates. If you don’t have time to eat two hours before, a quick 50-100 calorie snack 5-10 minutes prior to exercise will also be effective.
Try a bowl of oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, and whole-wheat toast as a pre-workout meal eaten two hours before your workout. If you have to eat directly before your workout, a small piece of fruit—like an apple or banana—will do. If you need a snack on-the-go on your way to the gym, stick with a smoothie. Not only are they time-friendly, building your own blend has a bunch of exercise benefits. For a perfect formula, use your favorite sliced fruit, a cup of Greek yogurt and some granola for a thicker consistency.
- WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT WHILE EXERCISING?
If you plan on exercising for less than an hour, you don’t need to eat; just make sure you hydrate with small, frequent sips of water during your workout. But if you’re doing something like a long run or bike ride, or maybe a couple of back-to-back fitness classes, try to eat 50-100 calories every half hour, preferably from a quick carbohydrate source that is easy to carry, like a bag of raisins, an energy bar, energy gels, or even a sports drink. The goal is not to replace every calorie that you burn, but rather to give you just enough fuel so that you can maintain a brightly burning metabolism.
- WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT AFTER EXERCISING?
Muscles need protein for recovery and growth, and the best time to deliver protein appears to be right after exercise. Providing high-quality protein after exercise gives your muscles the fuel and the building blocks needed for both repair and for growth.
Protein shakes and powders carry a certain allure, but your muscles don’t care if the protein comes from a hard-boiled egg, glass of chocolate milk or whey protein shake. Whatever you choose, more isn’t better — only 10 to 20 grams of protein is needed to provide amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to muscles.
A sample post-workout meal would be: grilled chicken and mixed vegetables (Your body is in recovery mode, so you need a nutrient dense dish. The lean protein and carbohydrates in chicken will fill you up without feeling overly bloated. Add some veggies in olive oil to keep your ticker in tip-top shape.), veggie omelet with avocado (Eggs are a great source of protein and help aid in muscle recovery and growth. Switch it up from the usual scramble and make a veggie-packed omelet. Garnish with a few slices of avocado for fiber.) or salmon with sweet potatoes (Aside from the usual protein perks, salmon has bioactive peptides, small protein molecules that play a role in inflammation reduction, helping to regulate insulin levels and give you joint support. Sweet potatoes pack in those complex carbs as well as help to restore glycogen levels, which get depleted after a workout.)
Also, here are some of the worst post workout foods that you should avoid at all costs:
- Salty snacks of all kinds (salty popcorns, pretzels, crackers, nuts and seeds)
- Sugary products and sodas (fruit yogurts, honey roasted nuts, Nutella, peanut butter and jelly sandwich)
- Fatty foods and snacks (French fries, potato chips, hamburger, pizza)
- Raw vegetables
- Milk chocolate
- Pastries (muffins, pies, donuts, puddings, cup cakes)
The ideal time to eat after a workout is within 30 minutes to two hours, when your body is ready and waiting to top off its fuel tanks to prepare for your next workout. But if your appetite or schedule doesn’t allow you to eat a meal right after your exercise session, don’t panic. Your body can still replace your muscle fuel over the next 24 hours, as long as you’re eating enough food to support your activity level.
As a moderate exerciser, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to timing your meals and choosing your foods. The most important thing is getting to know your body and how it responds to exercise, so that you can give it what it needs to perform at its best. Eating the right things at the right times after you work out is essential to keeping your energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode.
This article was submitted by UMA, Melbourne based Ultimate Martial Arts & Fitness school.
For more information, please visit http://www.ultimatemartialfitness.com.au/.
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