Getting and staying fit is a cornerstone of heart health and healthy longevity.
As important as working out and staying fit is, we know it’s not always easy. But with a few simple tweaks to your diet, you can get the most out of your workout and increase your energy level. Whether your goal is to lose weight or gain muscle – or simply improve fitness - planning your diet around your workout can help you reach your fitness goals faster.
Before Your Workout
Eating something before exercising (at least one hour before) is a great way to keep your energy up and your workout on track. If you’re dragging or distracted by hunger, it is unlikely you will be performing at your best – or exercising for very long.
A great pre-workout snack is a food that is mainly made up of carbohydrates, not protein.
Great options: Step One’s Pancakes, a small banana, or whole grain bread with a little peanut butter.
These are terrific choices for pre-exercise snacks since they are made up of about two-thirds carbohydrates with some protein. They are also complex foods, meaning they are digested without spiking your glucose levels like simple carbs would, helping keep your energy high for the entire workout.
During Your Workout
Whether you’re practicing yoga, running or weight-lifting, it is important to remain hydrated to prevent fatigue and keep performance at an optimal level. Drinking water replenishes fluids lost through sweating, and having enough water in your system is vital for proper body function.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that during exercise, people start drinking water early and at regular intervals to ensure they’re taking in fluids at the rate that they’re losing them.
Great option: Water (no sports drinks!)
We suggest avoiding sports drinks since they are loaded with calories, sugar and carbs. In fact, consuming some sports drinks is the nutritional equivalent to eating four slices of white bread! And all those calories add up – negating the ones you just burned off. So, unless you’re a professional football player or elite athlete, stick to water.
After Your Workout
It’s natural to experience an increase in appetite after exercise. Your body is prompting you to eat to rebuild its fuel stores, but you still need to nourish yourself properly or you could over-do it.
The key to a balanced and nutritional post-workout meal is protein. Your post-workout should contain more protein than carbs, since protein helps your body recover from the strain of exercising.
Great options: Step One’s Smoothie Mix with yogurt, or beans with brown rice
Step One Smoothie Mix sprinkled over, or blended into, a cup of fat-free Greek yogurt is a great combination as it provides ample protein together with many other essential nutrients. The combination of beans and rice, just like the Step One Smoothie Mix, contains protein for energy and muscle repair, along with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
The big message: Turns out, the same foods recommended for a healthful diet are recommended for a healthy workout eating regime – lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and nuts and beans. The only difference is that when you work out you want to tip towards more carbs pre-workout and more proteins after.
And Step One Foods makes this easy too.
by Elizabeth Klodas MD, FACC
Adapted from an article written by Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN, July 15,2015