Many of my clients wonder about eating and exercising and how to balance these two activities in a sustainable and healthy way. Here are my tips on how to fuel your workout and your body naturally so that you can achieve the most out of your routine.
How can you fuel yourself Sufficiently?
While you’re working out rigorously, make sure to sustain your energy levels, stay hydrated and get the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates. If you’re not taking in the right nutrients as you work out, you can injure yourself or even gain weight as your body struggles to cope with starvation mode fat storage. While you shouldn’t worry about scrutinizing calories, you should work to replenish what your body loses during exercise.
- 50 – 65 % of your calories should come from complex carbohydrates
- 15 – 25% of your calories should come from unsaturated fat
- 20 – 25% of your calories should come from protein
What should you eat before a workout?
Use your best tool – the Glycemic Index (GI Index) to determine the best source of carbohydrates to ingest before your workout. While high index foods are metabolized quickly and provide an instant burst of energy, they are not recommended before intense physical exercise because they cause your blood sugar levels to spike and lead to a “crash” where your energy levels become depleted and intense hunger pangs will strike. Instead, choose low to moderate Glycemic Index foods like bananas, dried apricots, apples, pears, kidney beans and yogurt. Eat these foods at least an hour before you work out to give you the energy you need to make it through your strenuous workout. If you do suffer from spikes or hypoglycemia-like symptoms, learn effective ways to curb your sweetest cravings here.
Ideal pre-workout snack ideas…Try:
- A slice of sprouted whole grain bread or brown rice cakes with hummus, lentil, tofu or bean spread. Veggie pate on your bread is also delicious!
- A few home-made energy balls containing dates, nuts, hemp, goji, green powder, oats, coconut
- Plain organic Yogurt and granola, fresh berries, mixed nuts and seeds, raisins. These are all superb superfoods.
- A tart granny Smith apple and cheddar cheese to provide carbs, protein and fat.
Ideal post-workout snack ideas
What you eat after a workout is just as important as what you eat before exercising. Now you must provide your body with what it needs to:
A) Repair stressed-out tissues
B) Bolster your immune system
C) Replenish depleted hormone levels
D) Synthesize muscle-building protein
Don’t forget you’ll need to replace any lost fluids and electrolytes to keep your body in prime condition too!
Hydrating and refreshing tips
- Drink 6-8 fluid ounces of water every 15-20 minutes during exercise
- For example: 32 ounces of this healthy home-made electrolyte elixir
- 8 ounces of freshly pressed juice and 2 slices of sprouted grain bread
Try this Pre or Post Workout smoothie
- 1 banana
- Handful frozen berries
- Young coconut juice for its electrolyte and hydrating properties
- 4 dates: these are high in glucose and have been called “nature’s fuel.” When consumed, the glucose is quickly converted to glycogen in the liver. Maintaining an adequate glycogen supply in both the muscles and the liver is imperative for sustained energy. Therefore, dates are best consumed shortly before, during, or immediately following exercise. (Extra bonus: dates are also alkaline-forming.)
- 1 tsp ground flax seeds: helps the body by stabilizing insulin levels and makes sure waste leaves the body quickly. “Out of the entire plant kingdom, flax contains the highest level of omega-3, an essential fatty acid.” Omega-3s are vital to the any active person as flax reduces inflammation and plays a role in the metabolism of fat
- A handful of kale or baby spinach leaves: Alkalizing foods are an integral part of the regeneration and repair process that takes place during the resting phase after exercise. Athletes in peak training are the most affected by excessively high acid levels (acidosis), as vigorous exercise causes a build up of lactic acid in the body. Stress of any kind only makes the situation worse.
- Continue eating 0.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight every 2 hours for six to eight hours after your rigorous workout. (This means a 150-pound athlete would take in 75 grams of carbohydrates or 300 calories).
- Incorporate protein along with your carbohydrates to enhance glycogen replacement. Add almond milk to your cereal, almond or hazelnut butter to your toast, and organic yogurt to your fruit servings.
- Replace electrolyte minerals like potassium and sodium by drinking this elixir, pineapple juice or orange juice and eating foods that are high in potassium like potatoes, yogurt, bananas & raisins.
The point here is not to become obsessed with calorie counting or percentages. Just understand the different classifications of food and how they aid in replenishing your system after a tough workout. Holistically, our bodies need a complex assortment of foods that all work very differently in the body to turn us into lean, mean muscle-building machines!
Happy Workout! 🙂