Fitness Trainer and Coach, Charles Ceasar works with people whose workout regimes range from strength and conditioning to dance inspired classes (fever or Zumba at uforia studios), to weekend warrior runners doing 5Ks and 10Ks.
While there is no question that his clients need personalized recommendations for fueling their activities, he is continually amazed at how so many of them do not actually eat properly before or after their workouts. Even more amazing is the misguided idea among some that avoiding food before workouts is somehow better because “it helps the body burn more fat”, according to Ceasar, “This is FALSE!”
Your body needs energy to perform. We all know our car’s do not go far without adequate fuel. So why would your body operate without food fuel? Fueling does not have to happen within minutes of your actual workout; however it does need to happen. Drink a minimum of 16 ounces of water, along with some fruit and whole grain or rye toast with peanut butter, says Ceasar, varying the amount depending on the extend of your pending workout.
Forgoing food before a workout helps you burn fat. Some people think that forgoing food before exercise is a smart fat burning strategy. The rationale is that, with no other fuel available, the body has to burn fat. In reality, says Charles, the body will use whatever energy is available. After an overnight fast, about 80 percent of stored carbohydrates have already been used. When you do not fuel before your workout, your body will draw from whatever carbohydrates are left, as well as protein, possibly muscle, and fat to make up the difference.
Before any workout, eat your carbs. Out of all of the foods you can have before a workout, prioritize ones rich in carbohydrates, especially if you really want to “amp up” your fat burn. This is the body’s preferred energy source during exercise.
Here are some of my recommended pre-workout foods:
Fruit. Blueberries, bananas, apples, peaches, and pears are great. Really any natural fruit choice will work. Avoid canned fruits in sugar.
Hot or cold cereal. If dairy bothers you, try soy milk or rice milk with your cereal, preferably a bran-based or whole-grain option.
Toast with nut butter or eggs and a side of fruit. Enjoy whole grain or rye toast with some protein nut butter; peanut, almond, or cashew, along with one or two eggs. Strawberries, blueberries and bananas go great with this choice.
Smoothies. Blend 1 cup of any fruit with some milk or low sugar juice and ice for a great snack you can sip while dressing for your workout or getting to your class or training session.
HYDRATE! Not only does being well hydrated improve your performance, it can save your life. Water acts as your body’s cooling system; without sufficient water during exercise your body temperature can reach dangerously high levels. Recreational athletes can drink water for hydration, however if you are exercising for more than 60 minutes in hot, humid conditions, sports drinks provide not only fluid, but carbohydrates and sodium.
The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of fluids with meals and drink two cups (16 ounces) of water two hours before exercise. Monitor your hydration status through two simple measures:
- Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace lost weight with 2 cups of fluids for each pound lost.
- Check the color of your urine. When you are hydrated, your urine will be a light straw color.
Post-Workout. Once you’ve gotten your workout in, there is the post-workout meal. Sit down to a healthy meal of non-processed foods. Check in with your REBALANCE expert and check out their preferred shopping lists packed with pre and post workout meal ideas and recipes.
Fuel window. In the 15-60 minutes immediately following a workout, your muscles are primed to receive fuel to start the repair process. Eat (or drink) your recovery meal right away, within the first half hour after the workout is complete.
Make it easy to digest. Your muscles need blood to deliver nutrients to them, the more of that blood that’s tied up in digesting solid foods, the less that gets to your muscles. Ideally, you should get your immediate post-workout fix in a liquid form.
Drink 2 cups of water, per pound of body weight lost, during exercise. This is really simple. You need water, before, during and after your workouts.
Replace lost electrolytes. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, the little conductors that transmit electrical impulses throughout your body. So you need to replace them; some good sources of electrolytes are fruit, dulse flakes, a few pinches of sea salt, or Nunn tablets.
Nourish your adrenal glands. Under the stress of an intense workout your adrenal glands work hard to release hormones to help you perform. To help them recover, sip herbal teas like chamomile, passionflower, and valerian as well low sugar vegetable juices.
Recovery doesn’t stop with your post-workout meal; you will want to eat again an hour or two later, this time focusing more on quality proteins; such as lean meats and fish, adding in complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and quinoa, as well as green leafy vegetables, preferably from an all natural oraganic source.
In addition food is not all you want to nourish or reward your hard work; stretch, self-massage, or better yet, get a sport massage, and REST!
After a few days of properly fueling and re-fueling your body before and after your workouts, you will feel so much better; you will exercise harder, and get much better performance results during your next workout or activity.
Charles Ceasar, Fitness Trainer and Coach, along with REBALANCE clients and friends re-fuel at the Whole Foods Market re-fueling station after a Saturday morning group run.
Disclaimer: Please consult your health care provider and/or physician prior to engaging in any physical fitness and/or workout routine. Information and content within this blog is provided for informational purposes only. This blog is not intended to provide medical advice, and anything read here should not be construed as such. Reading this blog or communicating with our staff does not create a physician-patient relationship. If you have questions about any health issue, including something you may have read hear, please consult a licensed, trained physician or health professional immediately.