to make a thing go right! In this case, the thing is your body and the two are nutrition and exercise! I am a firm believer that you can not really have one with out the other if your goal is to get healthier and remain that way. This has at least been very true in my own particular case. The good news is that for me once I made up my mind to get more active I naturally and very quickly progressed into wanting to also fuel my body with quality, whole foods that would help enhance the efforts I was putting into my workouts.
Lets face it, sometimes working out can be a bit grueling. It is not always fun when you are mid set and your squats are starting to feel more like some form of ancient torture rather than a great way to build your quads. For me, my thinking very quickly became how can I maximize that tough workout I just did using the foods I am eating during the day? I wanted to help my body respond to the hard work I was putting in with my workouts so very soon after I started working out again I also decided to re-vamp my diet both pre-and-post workout.
I can pinpoint the exact day I made up my mind to find myself again. I can even remember the morning back in March when my co-worker walked into the office and handed me my first shake packet. After those two things happened, it all just sort of clicked from there! I was lucky that I both decided I needed to start working out again and discovered the nutritional shakes almost simultaneously. After all, you can workout until you are red in the face and can’t move a muscle anymore but if you go out and eat fifteen cheeseburgers a week that effort you put in to burning those calories will all be undone (not to mentions your arteries will also probably be screaming at you to stop clogging them up)! Likewise, if you eat nothing but kale and chia seeds for every meal but do not engage in any type of physical activity during the week you are really not doing your body justice. You need to have a balance of both proper nutrition and a workout plan that fits your bodies needs in order to really achieve and maintain a healthy existence.
What I quickly discovered early on in my own journey is I was paying attention to what I was eating before my workout so I would have the energy to get through it but not as much on what I was consuming right after I had completed my session. When I really started getting into weight lifting is when I realized I had to pay just as much attention if not more to what I was using post-workout to refuel. The goal of eating before your work out is really to keep your blood sugar levels steady for the duration of the time you will be exerting yourself. A good mix of healthy fat, protein and good cards is the combo I have found to work the best. Some examples of this sort of meal would be:
- Oatmeal (a great trick here is to throw in some protein powder)
- Scrambled Eggs with some veggies mixed in
- Avocado toast or whole grain toast with peanut or almond butter
- or my go-to especially when I knock out my workouts in the morning is a super-food shake
For a heavier meal I would suggest eating this about 2 hours before you want to start exercising. If you are going for a lighter meal, maybe a snack portion, about 45 minutes before your workout will do the trick. I also down some pre-workout (if you are interested in what brand I like the best let me know) about 20-30 minutes before my sweat session to give me that boost of energy right before I am about to start. The one I use not only gives me more endurance, stamina and focus but also helps to delay muscle-fatigue so I can workout a but harder and longer. It is a must for me before each session!
Post-workout it is all about eating to help your body heal. When you workout your body uses up it’s glycogen stores for fuel. This can result in your muscles being taxed and even slightly broken down. When your workout is complete you body immediately starts trying to repair itself and rebuild those glycogen levels. Eating the right mix of foods post-workout helps speed up this process for your body and can even help with faster muscle growth. Here again eating the right mix of protein, carbs and healthy fat can aid your body in the recovery process. You want to eat your post-workout meal within about 45 minutes of completing your session and the generally accepted ratio for the best results is 3:1 carbs to protein. Some examples of great post-workout meal items are:
- Protein Powder Shake or Protein Bar
- Chocolate Milk (delicious and nutritious!)
- Sweet Potatoes (such a great super-food)
- Pasta, Rice or Quinoa (another great super-food)
- Spinach (or other leafy greens)
- Salmon, Chicken, Tuna
- Avocado, Nuts, Trail Mix
The bottom line is you are doing a great thing for your body by working out! Don’t forget to also pay attention to what you are using to fuel and re-fuel it as well. Exercise together with proper nutrition is a winning combination that will not only help you reach your weight goals, live an overall healthy lifestyle and can even help to reduce your risk of some diseases like coronary artery disease (see my previous post where my friend guest blogs about his experience suffering a heart attack due to clogged arteries). For me personally, when I had both my fitness routine and my nutritional plan worked out my energy levels went through the roof, my chronic headaches all but disappeared and even my mental health improved dramatically.
See below for some examples of meals I eat that have helped me achieve some of the goals I have hit over this past year. I hope like always this has been a helpful post and of course please feel free to reach out if you have any questions for me!