FT. WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Good nutrition is not only important for a strong immune system and preventing chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, but it also maximizes the benefits of working out. Natural, whole foods provide all the energy needed for a rigorous workout and unlike workout supplements, they are proven to work.
To ensure proper fuel for a workout, there are several things that should be kept in mind.
Drinking adequate amounts of water is essential to ensure the body functions properly during a workout. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, lemonade colored urine is a sign that the body is appropriately hydrated, while darker urine - think the color of apple juice, indicates dehydration.
In addition to being hydrated before a workout, replacing the water lost during a workout is imperative. Water plays a significant role in muscle recovery as it helps the body to digest nutrients and repair muscles damaged during exercise. Knowing the correct amount of water to rehydrate with is as easy as weighing in before and after a workout. The pounds lost after the workout is the amount of water needed to rehydrate; drink 16 ounces for every pound lost.
Skipping breakfast is a common mistake made by those completing a morning workout. Not eating before a workout can result in light-headedness, nausea and excessive tiredness. Additionally, skipping breakfast will negatively impact performance and reduce gains as the body needs fuel for exercise. Skipping breakfast before a morning workout will cause hunger and often causes overeating later in the day. It is ideal to eat between 30 minutes and two hours before a workout for proper performance. Examples of morning fuel include boiled eggs, whole grain toast with peanut butter, and oatmeal with fruit.
In addition to eating a healthy breakfast, consuming a high-protein snack before a mid-day workout is beneficial. Recovering after the workout can be accomplished by eating a sensible lunch with both protein and carbohydrates. A salad with lean meat, fruit and a vegetable, or soup and sandwich with Greek yogurt are both good options for muscle recovery.
For those choosing to have an evening workout, a mid-afternoon snack is also beneficial to avoid becoming famished before eating dinner. Going without eating between lunch and dinner, especially when there is an evening workout involved, will likely lead to eating quick, unhealthy foods to satisfy hunger as opposed to taking the time to prepare a nutritional dinner that will assist the body in recovering from a workout. Skipping dinner after the workout is also not advised. Eating a sensible dinner such as chicken stir fry or fish with vegetables and a small potato will not only refuel the body, but prevent late night munchies.
It is easy to overindulge with post-workout snacks, and end up eating or drinking more calories than you actually burned. If you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight, skip the energy drinks, protein bars, and sugary smoothies. Your post-workout snack should be around 150 calories and your post-workout meal around 500 calories. It's a good idea to eat a protein based snack between dinner and bed to prevent to prevent muscle loss during weight loss.
While it may seem easier to drink protein shakes than take the time to prepare healthy meals, these dietary supplements should play a small role, if any, in daily nutrition. Daily multivitamins are not harmful, but the body receives nutrients most effectively through food. Eating more veggies, fresh or frozen, lean meats and whole grain carbohydrates will get the body the proper fuel needed for working out and everyday life.