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Food As Fuel: What should I eat Before, during, and after my work out?

Whether you are just starting in your fitness journey or a seasoned athlete, you should use food to help you get more out of your workouts. In this post, we will go into detail about the role of food in exercise and which specific food groups you should consume before, during, and after your workout. 

The various factors you need to consider: 

Calories: Your body will burn more calories when you are physically active. Therefore, if your routine contains many intense workouts, you will need to fuel your body with more calories to keep up with the movement. Similarly, if your workouts are relatively low intensity, it is ideal for keeping calories in moderation. 

Protein: Protein aids athletic performance by increasing glycogen stores, reducing muscular pain, and promoting muscle regeneration. For people who are physically active daily, taking a quantity of protein will help them exponentially. A high-protein diet also has a metabolic benefit. Protein calories are less fattening than carbohydrate and fat calories because they require more energy to digest.  If you are sticking to a plant-based diet, it can be difficult to consume your protein requirements. Products like My Vegan Meal Plan, are designed to provide healthy quantities of carbs, healthy fat and most importantly protein.

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates’ primary function in physical exercise is to produce energy. They are obtained entirely from the glycogen reserves inside the muscle fibres themselves. They ultimately serve as the primary energy source for the working muscle during brief, intense activity.  Carbohydrates are also essential for longer endurance-based workouts. Hence why many endurance athletes “carbo load” in the days prior to an event. Products like EatWell, offer a simple method of providing you with a weekly meal plan that is stacked full of all the macronutrients needed to keep your body in top shape. 

Water: Whether you are a gym rat or not, everyone needs to stay hydrated. Hydration as with sleep are 2 vitally important considerations for basic health. Water keeps your body cool and keeps your joints lubricated. It aids in the transportation of nutrients, which gives you energy and keeps you healthy. Therefore, your body will not operate at its best if it is not adequately hydrated.
Iron, vitamins, and other minerals: Vitamins and minerals, often known as micronutrients, are essential for several bodily functions. Specifically, they help in converting food into energy and maintaining bone density.

What should I eat before, during, and after my work out?

Competitive athletes aren’t the only ones who benefit from sports nutrition. Your diet supplies the fuel for all of your physical activities. In preparing your meals, you should remember that depending on the type, intensity and duration of your activity, carbohydrates, fats and protein all provide energy. While protein may be utilized for energy, but its primary function is to aid in producing hormones and growing muscle.

Before your workout: Some people are capable of completing strenuous activities on an empty stomach. However, many experience nausea, tiredness, and overall malaise when they attend their training prior to eating anything. If you experience this, it is best to consume something 1-3 hours before you start pumping iron.

Healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat bread, low-fat or fat-free yoghurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and lots of fruits and vegetables should be included in a pre-workout meal or snack. If you are trying to squeeze in a snack 5-10 mins before your workout, eating fruit or a light snack will do. Furthermore, you should try to incorporate some protein and avoid fats as they will only make you feel sluggish at the end of your session. Most importantly, make sure you drink plenty of water. 

During your workout: Keep your body hydrated with regular sips of water, whether you’re a professional athlete who exercises for many hours or you have a low to moderate regimen. Water is frequently sufficient but sports drinks may also be beneficial if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes in hot, humid circumstances. The proper amounts will provide you with the needed carbohydrates, salt, and hydration. 

Athletes who sweat four litres or more per day are at a higher risk of salt deficiency. Weighing yourself before and after training sessions and competitions might help you figure out how much fluid you lose and guide you on how much fluid your body needs. 

If you are only planning a quick workout, snacking may not be exactly necessary. However, eating or drinking carbs in between workouts can help you perform better and allow you to exercise for longer periods of time. In this case, you will want to consume snacks that are light on the stomach and will not affect your performance. 

After your workout: Your body restores its glycogen reserves, as well as repairs and regrows muscle proteins after an exercise. If you eat the appropriate nutrients immediately after your session, your body can do all these tasks quickly. It is highly recommended to consume a post-workout snack or meal that contains both carbs and protein. 

Carbohydrates replace glycogen lost in your muscles during exercise, while protein offers amino acids that aid in muscle repair and regeneration. Some food you can eat for this purpose include smoothies, cheese, potatoes, chicken, low-fat milk, and whole-grain wraps.
Vitamins and minerals: The body also needs a range of vitamins for better metabolism. These vitamins aid in breaking down larger components like carbs and fatty acids into smaller units that the body may utilize to convert food into energy. Calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin D are the most vital nutrients athletes consume. You can also take in some antioxidants like vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium.

The bottom line:

The number of reps you complete and the kilometres you run, ride or walk are not the only important factors in getting an effective training session. What you eat and drink before, during, and after your session may either help or delay your overall progress. The above provides you with a general guide to what you need to consume throughout your sessions. However, you will still need to do experiments and find what works for your body. Should you require any further information with regards to any of the information in this article then do not hesitate to get in touch with the leading personal trainer in Carnegie, Movewell.

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