We’re putting the focus on moving our bodies in July, so what better way to kick off the month than by talking workout fuel? Our programs are always paired with a workout regimen, and we often get asked how to fuel before and after a workout. As with all things nutrition related: it’s different for every body. One diet does not fit all! So we encourage you to run a little ‘self-experiment’ to see what works best for y-o-u. Special thanks to our gal and resident sports dietitian, Amanda Gilles for these tips!
Before we dive in, we thought it would be helpful to talk about carbohydrates and protein first…give you the ‘whys’ behind fueling your body. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source. When we consume carbohydrate rich foods, the body converts these carbohydrates into blood glucose (sugar), which powers cells, such as those of the brain and muscles. The blood sugar mechanism is a lot like a car. If your car runs out of fuel, it will stall. Similarly, food is you fuel. Eating the right foods provides fuel by providing adequate blood sugar which our body utilizes for energy (i.e. running, walking, biking, playing with your kids, etc!) A car that runs out of gas will just stop, but if your body runs low on blood sugar, it will ‘hit the wall’ or ‘bonk’. At this point the body will break down muscle to keep itself going. Keeping adequate carbohydrate stores in the form of glycogen in the live and muscles is crucial to keep you feeling energized and to prevent the breakdown of muscle. Be sure to always keep your energy tank full to feel your best before and after workouts.
The protein we eat on a daily basis provides the necessary building blocks that allow our body to grow and function. When it comes to exercise, we want to make sure we are taking in adequate protein throughout the day, and specifically around workouts, to prevent muscle loss. Protein is essential for growth and repair of muscles, making antibodies to boost immunity, production of hormones and enzymes and neurotransmitters, replacing red blood cells, it can even help us with the physiological effects of stress. When we exercise, our muscles get damaged and begin to break down. Consuming protein rich snacks around a workout can minimize or reverse muscle breakdown and help you maintain or increase muscle mass. More muscle mass equals more calories burned at rest…which equals reduced body fat. Winning!
Pre-workout fuel is just as important as post-workout fuel. What’s going to power you through the workout? What type of workout will you be doing? How long? How intense? These are all questions to keep in mind when deciding what to eat. A good rule of thumb for pre-workout is 75% carb, 25% protein…roughly. You know us, we aren’t big on rules 😉 You want this to be a more carbohydrate focused snack or meal to ‘top off your energy tank’ and to ensure your muscle glycogen (energy) stores are full and ready to work! Here are some some ideas:
- almond butter on a banana
- scrambled egg(s), avocado or hummus on whole grain/gf toast (see bread recommendations here!)
- cheese (if you can tolerate dairy) and fruit
- veggies or rice cake with hummus
- overnight oats
- green smoothie
- figgy oat muffin’s
Post-workout fuel should be a carbohydrate and protein focused meal/snack. Recovery nutrition is non-negotiable! This needs to happen after any tough workout. Post workout carbs and protein helps refuel muscle glycogen stores and helps rebuild muscles that are starting to ‘break down’. Recovery nutrition is crucial in helping you continue to see progress and feel good. It will also help reduce post workout muscle soreness, and prevent that heavy leg feeling! So, some ideas for post-workout:
- protein smoothie (add a scoop of your favorite protein powder or seed blend (chia/flax/hemp) to your favorite smoothie recipe!)
- omelet with veggies, meat if you’d like, and a side of fresh fruit
- scrambled eggs with sautéed veggies and beans
- hardboiled eggs + fresh fruit (do you see a theme here? Hey, eggs are easy.)
- chicken with roasted sweet potato fries
- greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit (if you can tolerate dairy!)
Do you feel ready to take on your next workout? We sure hope so! We’re sharing workouts over on our Instagram account all month long. We haven’t given up on our summer bods quite yet 😉