In my opinion, one of the hardest concepts for people to grasp is that exercise is the be-all, end-all to looking and feeling your best. In reality, exercise is only part of it. Healthy eating is huge. What you eat before, during and after your workouts solidifies your efforts during said workouts. So when Kate of Kate Is Eating offered up a post about food as fuel, I couldn't resist. Enjoy, and be sure to follow her on Twitter, too (@lecksicon).
Saying I’m a huge fan of food is a gross understatement. I love it and I live it, and sometimes it gets the better of me. There are definitely instances when food should be thought of as nourishing your body rather than a means of wreaking havoc on your digestive system. Before, during, and after exercising all require different types of nutrition and digestion. To maximize your workout and recovery, try some of these meal and snack ideas for your workouts.
Your body needs good sugars to fuel workouts. While glucose is what you want before you workout intensely, it does get burned out quickly and needs to be replenished. Don’t ingest a large amount of protein before working out that your body is using up all of its resources to digest it. Brendan Brazier, the man behind Vega, recommends dates for being an abundant glucose source. It’s made available right away so your body isn’t expending energy to break it down. Bananas are an awesome source of sugar and potassium and are good for a quick burst of energy. Oatmeal is perfect if you want a slower-digesting pre-exercise meal. Packing it with fruit and consuming this about an hour before you work out gives your body a good source of sugars to work with. This lentil bread recipe with roasted pepper sunflower spread from Purely Twins is a good source of carbohydrates before a workout.
DURING A WORKOUT
In addition to hydrating with water throughout your exercising, you need to replenish any lost electrolytes during physical activity. Aside from Gatorade or powdered mixes, you can also try coconut water, which is filled with electrolytes. Another good option is to try carbohydrate gels, which are concentrated carbohydrates that contain no protein or fat so they’re easily digested. Try Gu, Clif Shot Bloks, or PowerBar Energy Gel the next time you’re working out at a pretty high intensity.
There are a variety of post-workout protein mixes out there for you to take with you and consume within the first hour of working out. This should ideally be something with little fat and fiber, and not much protein, just so all of the carbohydrates can be quickly released into the bloodstream with minimal work on the part of your digestive system. A scoop or two of whey protein powder for quick protein-absorption, or some juices and shakes that contain maca root or chlorella are awesome for recovery. Here’s a good recovery drink: Sprint2theTable’s cherry ginger smoothie. Cherries and ginger are great anti-inflammatories, and combining them with some protein powder will help with the protein your body needs.
Sources: Thrivein30, Sprint2theTable, Live, Love, & Run
Question: What is your favorite way to fuel up during a workout? I'm specifically interested in your response if you're a distance runner, as I am currently in training and about to hit peak milage.