Fuel Your Body, Maximize Your Fitness Results
The difference between a good and a bad workout often comes down to how you fuel your body. What you eat and when you eat it determines how hard you can push yourself during a training session. It also impacts how well your muscles recover afterwards.
Many people believe not eating before a workout will help them burn more fat. That’s simply not the case. In fact, not eating before a workout can lead to feeling lethargic or even faint during a workout. The main goal of eating before a workout is to prime our metabolism and replenish the glycogen that supplies our energy needs to our body.
So, how do you fuel your body for a successful workout without limiting your performance? The solution is a simple nutritional recipe for fitness success: drink plenty of water, and eat good carbs and lean protein.
Here are a few tips on how to best fuel your body to maximize your training experience.
We can’t stress this enough: stay hydrated. Drinking water before you begin your workout is crucial. The amount of water your body needs will vary from person to person based on size and muscle mass. Do your own personal research to determine your optimal hydration requirements. The goal is to be fully hydrated within an hour of starting your workout. This is because the act of drinking water only starts the hydration process and our bodies need time to fully benefit. During a high-intensity workout, aim to drink water every 20-30 minutes to stay hydrated as you exercise. Keep in mind, when you drink water during your workout, you’re not just putting liquid back into your body, you’re also replenishing electrolytes, sodium, and glucose. Even better, drinking water can help regulate your body temperature and even prevent muscle cramps.
Eat Regularly Throughout The Day
We get it. Life happens and suddenly we find ourselves skipping meals and making excuses. The benefit of disciplining ourselves to eat at regular intervals throughout the day is that we can better maintain proper blood sugar levels and energy levels as well. Aim to eat about 300 to 500 calories about two hours before your workout. Remember, your body can only use food it’s already digested. Eating easily digestible food a couple of hours before you exercise will provide your body with the time it needs to properly fuel itself without making you feel too full.
Convinced you just can’t make that happen? Even just eating a 50 to 100 calorie snack consisting of fast-digesting carbs right before your workout can provide a quick burst of energy to fuel your fitness. Some great choices to eat on the go are fruits like oranges, bananas, apples, or raisins.
Just Say “No” To Some Foods
When it comes to fueling a great workout, avoid foods high in saturated fats like fried foods or pizza. In general, these kinds of foods take a long time to digest and tend to sit very heavy in your stomach. A small serving of good fats is much more ideal, such as half an avocado or a hand-full of almonds.
Additionally, while foods high in fiber are great for digestive health, consuming large servings of foods high in fiber right before a workout could upset your stomach. Consuming high-fiber foods like broccoli, lentils, or certain cereals before a workout draws blood flow to your digestive system rather than your muscles. This can limit the amount of oxygen, sugar, and amino acids your muscles receive as you exercise.
Lastly, avoid carbonated beverages like soda and seltzer before working out. These drinks can cause gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. They also contain significant amounts of sodium, which can cause dehydration.
Fuel Your Recovery
Jump start your recovery process by consuming good food within 30 to 45 minutes after completing your workout. Look for foods consisting of carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein. Whole grains and lean meats work best for restoring glycogen stores and stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Fruit smoothies or protein shakes are great options if you’re crunched for time.
In general, macronutrients are key for maximizing your body’s recovery after a great workout. Protein helps repair and build muscles. Carbohydrates replenish your body’s glycogen stores. Good fats like avocado, nuts and seeds, eaten in moderation, have also been shown to aid in muscle growth after a workout.
Finally, don’t skip the water. Replenishing lost water and electrolytes will help you maximize the benefits of your workout.
Now that you’ve got some great tips for fueling your workout, try a FREE training session at Invictus! Which class below are you most curious about?
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