3 Rules to Super Fuel Your Workouts During National Nutrition Month – and Beyond
We don’t need National Nutrition Month (March) to tell us that food is an important ingredient to our overall well-being and health. But it’s also a sometimes overlooked factor in providing the nutrients, energy and fuel we need in class, an on-demand workout at home or in the weights room. Even small adjustments to diet and your nutritional mix can make a huge impact on energy levels for how well you perform and just as critically, recover afterwards. As you look to fuel high energy workouts and overall health, consider these three rules.
Eat healthy regardless of exercise
If you’re not eating right, or particularly well, you won’t be able to enhance your diet plan or mix of nutrients to boost workouts or exercise. Most of us live busy lives running between work, kids, family and other commitments so cutting corners with food and meals can be an easy time-squeezed fix. Grabbing a fast food option a few times a week might seem excusable, but has healthy weight management as well as health-impacting implications. A single fast food burger packs a walloping 1,000 milligrams of sodium (almost half of the recommended maximum daily allowance), 10 grams of sugar (almost 2.5 teaspoons), 40 grams of carbs and 500 calories. 15 minutes after you consume that burger you experience a massive blood glucose rush which triggers an insulin release and then a crash, leaving you feeling hungry soon after. Limit any fast food to a once a month emergency, and look to eat daily meals that give you approximately 2,000-2,500 calories, that are low in trans fats, cholesterol and added sugar. Look to add Vitamin-D rich foods, as well as dietary fiber, calcium, iron and potassium. Download the latest nutritional recommendations here.
Time nutrition – or fasting – with optimal workout performance
It seems obvious, but food intake needs to be timed in conjunction with your type of workout. Lifting weights isn’t recommended without the appropriate nutrition to help your body build muscle, but higher intensity exercise like HIIT classes or running can actually benefit from exercising in a fasted state – particularly close to the end of the fasted state. While you sleep your body stores glucose as glycogen in your muscles and liver. As the night progresses, insulin (which helps you absorb sugar and prevent weight loss) levels in the body drop as well as liver glycogen. Glycogen in your muscles remains stored so when you hit the road first thing or get to class before starting your day, the body uses this stored energy before switching to burning fat for fuel. Evidence suggests skipping breakfast and working out for a typical run or class length later in the morning will burn fat without muscle loss. Make sure to eat within an hour of fasted exercise in the morning. Alternatively, exercising in the afternoon can have other benefits. As our bodies warm up during the day, late in the day exercise can mean a quick start and better performance. Experts believe our bodies produce more testosterone (men and women) during an afternoon workout meaning better strength and muscle gain. If your schedule makes this possible, eat a small snack like a piece of fruit an hour before you hit the gym or fire up your on-demand class.
Choose right nutrients for workout and recovery
Whenever you choose to workout, nutrition role: energy to fuel workout performance, and nutrients to help repair muscle and nourish your body after exertion. Healthy carbohydrates before any workout are recommended. Skip things like refined sugary cereals or pastries and fiber filled foods or carbonated drinks. Instead opt for whole grain cereals or toast, whole grain rice or pasta and vegetables to boost your energy. After exercise protein for muscle repair is important along with carbs. Eat an hour after your work out. If it’s dinner grilled chicken, or another lean protein with vegetables and rice is a great choice, or salmon and sweet potato which provide an excellent nutrient-rich post workout dinner.
Ashley Miller, a dynamic Digital Content Manager at Fitness On Demand, propels brand visibility through strategic digital initiatives. She takes the lead in partner relations, while also overseeing content quality and skillfully curating exercise programming. She dedicates herself to developing impactful narratives that contribute to a thriving fitness community.