If you’re an athlete or a fitness lover, you know that nutrition and fitness go back a long way. By eating the right nutrients, you allow your body to get the raw materials that are necessary to power you through your workout and repair muscle afterwards. Therefore, you have to learn to eat the right foods at the right times of the day.
Get off to a good start
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and, if you skip it, you are actually running on empty. Starting your day with a nutritious meal can help replenish your blood sugar, in order to power your muscles and your brain.
You should try oatmeal, or whole-grain cereals (high in fiber) adding some protein, such as milk, yogurt, or nuts.
If you don’t want to give up on pancakes and waffles, make sure to replace some of the all-purpose flour with whole-grain options.
They will be healthier, yet tasty!
Before your workout
Achieving the right balance of carbs and protein is crucial. Snacks that combine carbs with protein can make you feel more energized than foods made from simple sugars and lots of fat.
Here are some options:
- Brown rice with black beans
- Multi-grain crackers with cream cheese
- Oatmeal with berries
- Apple and walnuts
Needless to say, fruits and vegetables are always a good idea! Try to “eat the rainbow” by choosing
them of different colors, so that you access the full range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
I also recommend dried fruits, as they are a great source of energy for athletes: since water is extracted from
them, all of their nutrients are condensed.
During your workout
It is extremely important to drink plenty of liquids during your workouts, because you don’t have to get dehydrated. In fact, water acts as our body’s cooling system and, unlike food, you can drink it as much as you want. The more, the better!
However, when you bike or run for more than an hour, you’re losing fluids, but you’re also sweating out electrolytes like sodium and potassium. You could replace them with a sports drink or even a glass of tomato juice.
In order to “keep track” of your fluids, you could weigh yourself before and after exercise. Then drink two and a half cups of water for every pound you’ve lost.
Instead of eating an energy bar, you can have a small box of raisins. They release more energy, providing you carbs and potassium.
After your workout
It is best to eat protein after exercising, because it helps your muscles recover and grow.
It is recommended to eat something 30 minutes/1 hour after your workout, so that you refill your energy store and keep your metabolism in balance.
If you wait 2 hours, the ability of your body to repair your muscles will decrease by 50%.
Here are some foods that help speed up recovery:
- Protein shake made with half of a banana, almond milk, and hemp seeds (excellent protein source)
- Salad with roasted chickpeas
- Quinoa bowl with black berries and pecans
- Salmon: it is nature’s number one source of vitamin D.
With time you will learn how to listen to your body and eat the foods that are best for you individually. In general, you should always have a big and healthy breakfast, combine carbs and protein, and drink a lot of water!