Whether you’re just starting to exercise or you’re an athlete in training, what you eat could make your next workout better. Unfortunately, not many are aware of this. But eating right can have a significant impact on the results of one’s workout. Norvic Hospital’s Dietician, Praniti Singh gave us for more insight on the matter. The Week talked also rounds up some great options on what to eat before and after a workout.
Why is eating vital to our exercise?
Eating around your training is vital to your fitness progress because we all need food to help liberate energy. It seems there are some people who apply the diet logic here. They think if they skip a meal before or after workouts, it might help them shed weight but this can actually work against you. Not eating enough and thus depriving your body of proper nutrients and energy will affect your performance and, most importantly, your results.
Can you specify exactly how our food intake affects our workout sessions?
Before exercising it is all about making sure you have enough energy. You don’t want to have heavy meals but carbohydrates are crucial so bananas or egg whites make for great pre exercise meal. For a standard hour-long workout — lifting, running, cycling — you need to make sure you have a combination of carbs and protein to provide a stream of energy during strenuous exercise and nutrients to repair muscle afterward. But be sure to leave 45 minutes to an hour between eating and exercising for digestion.
During exercising, I’d recommend you take extra care to hydrate yourself. Dehydration can lead to one feeling tired prematurely and again, this tends to skip many people’s minds.
During a workout, your body breaks down muscle glycogen as well as muscle protein structures. Therefore, following exercise, your body needs to replenish its energy stores and repair muscle tissue to allow for new growth. In order to do this, you’ll need to consume enough carbs to promote substantial insulin release. That’s because it’s your body’s insulin that is responsible for shuttling carbs and amino acids back into the muscles. So, how exactly can we give our bodies the carbs and protein it needs? As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to consume about 20 to 40grams of protein after a workout
Is the requirements of food intake same for everybody?
It always helps to know the basics. For instance: How much fat you have in your body? What’s the body mass index? Does your body have enough water? Information like this can help you move ahead in a systematic manner which will obviously yield better results. We need to manage our diet before and after the exercise accordingly as well. Obviously a person who is obese and who has a lean body will have to adhere by different diet plans.
Bananas are very rich in fast-acting carbohydrates that will provide you with usable fuel for a workout, and the supply of potassium aids in maintaining muscle and nerve function. To people who like to work out first thing in the morning and typically skip eating before, because they don’t have any spare time, this could be the ideal option.
Oats are packed with fiber, which facilitates a steady release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream, and therefore a steady energy supply throughout your workout. If old-school oatmeal isn’t really your thing, there are new and tasty varieties available in the market these days. For those willing to put in extra effort, there are great recipes for overnight oats with tons of fiber and protein as well.
This isn’t just a general assumption, in several research papers caffeine has been shown to help regular drinkers enjoy a workout more by generating energy, as well as to slow fatigue and increase the rate of fat-burn. Many gym enthusiasts have been known to add a couple shots of espresso to their pre-workout shake in the morning to pump them up.
The fat in egg yolks is metabolized slowly and therefore is likely to make you feel bloated and sluggish during your workout, so egg whites are a much better pre-workout option. A single egg white provides around four grams of protein and no fat.
This is a great option if you only have a few minutes before your workout because it’s so light, so the simple carbs will provide you instant energy without weighing you down. A few recommendations for dried fruits to eat are dried berries, apricots, and pineapple. Shoot for around a quarter cup.
Whole Grain Toast
Whole grains — like brown rice — are packed with fiber, providing slow-release, sustained energy throughout the duration of a workout. Topping it off with some jam will provide you with fast-acting simple carbohydrates. Or, you can follow other interesting recipes by adding yogurt, pistachios, and honey.
Chicken Breast and Brown Rice
If you are working out after lunch or dinner, you want to eat something that will sit well, provide you with a good deal of usable fuel, and have minimal fat. The complex carbohydrates in brown rice help sustain energy production while chicken or tofu will provide protein for muscle repair after your workout. Also do note when we say chicken, we mean of the boiled variety not the oily gravy one that we are used to. If you prefer, you can substitute brown rice with sweet potatoes or other whole grains/starchy vegetables. You definitely should avoid rich foods that will take longer to digest and most likely make you uncomfortable while exercising.
Tuna and Whole Wheat Cracker
Tuna and whole wheat crackers are other great post-workout snacks for people on the move. Tuna is low in fat but packed with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. On the flip side, crackers are a crunchy source of energizing carbs. If you can, skip the mayo and opt for some fresh lemon juice, olive oil and a little mustard instead.
Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Salad
Here is a combo you might want to try. Like tuna, salmon is another nutritionally powerful fish packed full of protein and omega-3s. Pairing salmon with a side of mashed potatoes, which are high on the GI, will balance your fish with a hearty serving of glucose-giving carbs. If you’re feeling adventurous, substitute your white potatoes for sweet potatoes which provide a cornucopia of vitamins and minerals. A hearty salad completes the meal and will satisfy your taste buds.
What makes Fruit Smoothies a great post-workout food is its versatility. Liquid meals are easily digested, quickly absorbed and, most of all, convenient. To get the most out of your smoothie, blend together some whey protein, yogurt, skim or soy milk, a few high-GI fruits (like mangos and melons), and some bananas for their plentiful potassium. The result will satisfy even the most demanding muscles.