8 Simple Food Rules To Follow When You’re Being Active
Everyone knows the analogy: your body is like a car. You need to fill your tank (body) with good fuel (food) so that it can run to its best capability. Good fuel becomes even more important when you want to get the most from your workout routine. The wrong diet can have a huge impact on those hours you spend sweating it out at the gym.
8. Have a Pre-Workout Snack
For optimal energy, it’s recommended to eat a small snack with a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat about an hour to an hour and a half before your workout. For example, some whole wheat toast with a bit of avocado or peanut butter peps you up without making you too full, and the whole wheat ensures slower digestion and no sugar crash.
7. Skip the Sports Drink
If you’re easing your way into a regular workout routine doing short or low-intensity exercises, it’s best to stick to water for hydration instead of reaching for a sports drink. It might be tempting to crack open a fruit punch-flavored beverage, but it simply isn’t necessary at a lower intensity level.
6. Don’t Swim After Eating
Okay, mom might have had something on this often-repeated warning: you shouldn’t swim on a full stomach. A swim workout engages your core more than most cardio exercises, and when the body is focused on digestion, it decreases blood flow to the muscles and zaps your energy. Eat a protein and carb-balanced meal well before your planned workout, and drink plenty of water beforehand.
5. Choose Light Pre-Yoga Meals
Yoga is a great practice that engages your whole body and mind. One target of yoga is to help your internal organs work better. It’s best to eat a light, balanced meal a few hours prior to practicing yoga so that you can focus on your breathing and relaxation instead of a full stomach.
4. Choose Carbs
While it’s best to avoid those sugary cookies and tempting brownies in the coffee shop line, you shouldn’t cut out carbs entirely. When doing cardio, it’s optimal that your body is burning energy from carbs. A lack of carbs in the diet forces the body to fuel itself with protein stores, which can result in muscle loss instead of fat loss.
3. Pump Up the Protein
Lifting weights is a great way to strengthen your muscles. As you lift weights, your body stresses your muscles, forcing you to replenish the tissue later and resulting in added strength. Eating a pre-workout meal high in fat sabotages your workout by leaving you feeling full and less energized. A snack fortified with extra protein is ideal before weightlifting.
2. Keep Post-Workout Snacks Simple
You might be sweaty and winded after a workout, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat like crazy. Eating protein is important at this time, but for most workouts, you don’t have to have a lot of it. A snack such as Greek yogurt and mixed berries provides you with protein and carbs to help your body start rebuilding.
1. Keep Time on Your Side
You already know that how soon you eat before a workout can have impact on performance. Naturally, the same goes for eating after a workout. Optimally, you want to eat your protein-based snack within 60 minutes of finishing your workout. If you miss that mark a little, don’t worry – even up to 90 minutes after, a simple refuel from a glass of chocolate milk starts the muscle recovery process.