ARE YOU FUELING EFFECTIVELY?
Rachael Dudum Holt, Parkpoint Sonoma Fitness Director
Food in its simplest form is comprised of fats, sugars (simple like fructose & glucose and complex like starchy carbs such as rice & pasta), alcohol sugars, and protein. Proteins come in many different forms. “Clean” proteins, such as whey isolate, and animal proteins, such as chicken, fish, and beef, are all acceptable foods to get the protein you need for peak performance and recovery.
Your body will first burn glucose and sugar (carbs) for brain function and to replace the loss of carbohydrate storage, then will burn fats and then proteins. It is only when sugar stores are depleted that fat and protein begin to be metabolized.
It’s a no brainer that if you consume a higher protein/lower carbohydrate diet, you will have less sugar reserves to burn (which if not used quickly, will store in your body as fat). But for those who want to refuel and repair their muscles effectively, eating the right foods at the right time is critical for optimum performance and recovery.
The time of day you choose to train depends on your schedule and what works for you. The same can be said about the food you eat. The most important thing to remember pre- and post-workout is to listen to your body. If you are an early morning riser and done pumping iron by 6 a.m., then you may be fine with a fasting workout, depending on the duration and intensity. For those who have run a 5k by 5 a.m., a light snack to increase blood sugar levels will help with energy and can give you the extra boost you need to make it through an entire routine without “crashing.” Those who choose a mid-day challenge may want a bigger snack or larger light meal to get them through. Evening athletes may want a boost of protein and carbs if they have been working all day. Whatever time of day you choose, it’s MOST important to fuel your workout one to three hours prior to exercising, and even more important to eat a meal or snack within one hour post-workout.
Here’s a list of food Do’s and Don’ts for reference:
Cock-a-Doodle Doo-ers: DO!
- Glass of orange or apple juice or coffee
- Fasting workout
Mid-Day Breakers & Late Birds: DO!
- Cottage cheese & fruit (for those who are lactose intolerant, dairy is not a great option post-workout)
- Toast or apple slices with nut butters
- Protein bar (low sugar)
- Trail mix/nuts
Pre- & Post-Workout Noshing: DON’T!
- Greasy or fattening foods. All the yummy stuff like fast food, creamy pasta, and cheesy smothered sourdough will not only negate the caloric burn, if that’s your goal, but are hard to digest after a workout. Blood rushes to our muscles while we work out and slowly returns, making digestion sluggish within the first 30-45 minutes post-workout. Be nice to your tummy.
- ALCOHOL! DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL directly after a workout. It’s terrible for your muscles. It inhibits the function of muscle repair by stopping necessary hormones from helping rebuild muscles that have been micro-torn. Drinking alcohol after a workout is like saving all your money for your dream vacation, booking it, and then burning all the cash.
- Sugar-laden/butter-soaked baked goods. This is pretty self-explanatory. Try to stay away from cinnamon rolls and bear claws after you work out.
- Foods high in dairy. Because the digestion process is slow during this time, those with dairy intolerances may have a much harder time digesting milk proteins post-workout, causing bloating, gas, and abdominal pain in certain individuals.
- Too much fiber. We can all imagine why highly fibrous or high fiber foods may be a tough breakdown for our fist-sized stomach after a three-mile run or “legs day.” There are plenty of other opportunities to get your fiber throughout the day.
Last but not least, drink plenty of water. This cannot be said enough. Water is essential to our daily lives. Hydration is one of the most important actions you can do for yourself physically. The rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in water, or approximately 15.5 cups a day for men and 11.5 cups a day for women. Yes, that sounds like a lot, so try bringing a water bottle with you during the day and filling it up when you can. If you see a water fountain, sip, sip! Your liver, pancreas, and kidneys will thank you for it, and the icing on the cake is potential weight loss and glowing skin! This service announcement is brought to you by the letter ‘H’ for “Hydration.”
Fun Fact: Did you know there is one floating bone in your body? It’s the hyoid bone, and it’s located in the upper part of the neck.