If you are working out to get back in shape, you need to be careful about the food you are eating. Food and exercise are tightly connected and what you eat and when can be of great help, or your stepping stone in reaching your goal. So, here are some tips on how you can boost your fitness performance with food, but not be hungry!
Eat a healthy breakfast
Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day. If you are an early bird and like to do your workout early in the day, be careful to wake up early enough to eat. You should finish breakfast at least one hour before your workout. Carbohydrates are a great option for an early breakfast, because they will boost your energy level and you will be able to workout for longer duration and more intensely. Good options for such a breakfast are cereals, juice, a banana, a pancake or yogurt.
If you plan on eating within the hour before breakfast, opt for a lighter breakfast such as a sports drink or a nut mix.
If your usual morning routine includes coffee, you can drink it, but make sure to also eat something to prevent upsetting your stomach.
Be mindful of the size
Size matters. At least when you’re eating. We already mentioned that you shouldn’t eat within the hour before a workout. But that only applies for smaller meals. Bigger meals, such as lunch and dinner, should be avoided within three hours before a workout. Usually, nutritionists suggest having three large meals and up to three smaller meals. The large meals include breakfast, lunch and dinner, while the smaller meals include snacks in between meals. Snacks should not be a substitute for a large meal – meaning: you should not cut down on the amount of food intake because you think that will bring you to your goal sooner. Eating while exercising is important, and having proper meals in a day can make or break your fitness progress. If you can’t cook, or simply do not have the time, opt for a customized meal plan that will give you balanced meals according to your needs.
Don’t eat empty calories
One of the most important things to know if you are regularly working out is how to avoid eating empty calories. Empty calories have small nutritional value and do nothing to boost your energy level. Instead, they will give your body sugars and fats, and may even lead to weight gain. Identifying empty calories is fairly easy: they are found in all the food we love to eat! So, for example, fast food, juices, sodas, meat products, full-fat dairy, and sweets are filled with empty calories. Instead of munching on a doughnut on your way to the gym, try drinking a fruit smoothie. Also, anything that is whole-grain or low-fat is fine, as long as you don’t over-indulge in it. So, snacking on a whole-grain bagel with low-fat cheese, a peanut butter sandwich, yogurt, or an energy bar is quite acceptable. These snacks will give your body the necessary fuel for a productive workout.
Eat after your workout
Many people make the mistake of eating before the workout and then completely skipping a meal after the workout, thinking that it will go straight to their thighs or belly. That is a common misconception, and here’s why. Your muscles need to recover after a workout, and the way to do so is to replace their glycogen stores. Foods rich in protein will help you recover more quickly and not be as sore as you would without it. A good food choice for after the workout is turkey, chicken (of course, not fried in oil), chocolate milk, peanut butter sandwich, yogurt and fruit, and smoothies. Choose smoothies with green veggies in them, like kale and spinach for best result.
Adequate hydration is necessary to prevent your body from dehydrating and having severe consequences like fatigue and even vomiting. To help your body recover, you need to drink at least two to three cups of water before your workout, one cup of water every 20 minutes during your workout, and at least three cups after. Now, you may think this is excessive, but it is not. You sweat during the workout and water evaporates from your skin. This amount of water also helps your kidneys get rid of all the toxins in your body. If you deny your body this opportunity, all those toxins stay inside you and can cause illness. If, however, you dislike the taste of water, you can always add a few drops of lemon, orange, grapefruit or other citrus fruit for a better taste and a vitamin boost.
Now you know what is important to eat and drink while working out. We hope this will make it easier for you, and bring about some positive changes. Cheers!