Maintaining your body healthy should be a priority, and working out on a regular basis is a great way to do so. What to eat before and after exercising is just as important as working out, maximizing the benefits of your hard work, and aiding with muscular recovery.
What happens when you work out?
Your body will use energy to contract muscles and spur movement, and as a result, glucose is being released. The glucose is the sugar the body has stored away from the foods we eat in the form of glycogen. Along with glucose, your body will also use adenosine triphosphate (ATP), to keep you energized. As the body only contains small doses of these substances and they are consumed rapidly, more oxygen is required to produce more ATP. As a result, your heart will pump more blood to the exercising muscles to deliver that additional O2. When not enough oxygen is being provided, your body will form lactic acid, which is usually flushed from your body within 30 to 60 minutes after finishing up a workout. Tiny tears form into your muscles as you work out, and as they heal, they will help them grow bigger and stronger. No pain, no gain!
As mentioned above, your heart rate will increase in order to supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles. As you get fitter, your heart will become more efficient at doing so which will prolong the length and intensity of your workout. As a result of new blood vessels forming, your blood pressure will decrease.
As your muscles can call for 15 times more oxygen than when you’re at rest, your breathing rate will naturally increase, until he muscles surrounding your lungs cannot move any faster. This is when you start feeling out of breath. The fitter you are the maximum capacity of oxygen use will increase.
Joints and bones:
You achieve peak bone mass at adulthood, which then begins to slowly decline. Exercising can help you maintain healthy bone mass as you get older. Your bones are porous and soft and if you are inactive, your bones become less dense. Research have shown that weight-bearing exercise is one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis.
The increased blood flow will allow your brain to function better almost immediately. Regular exercise will enable new brain cells to grow, which will boost memory and learning. Mood control hormones such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine will be trigger, which makes working out a good remedy for depression and anxiety.
Photo credit: lzf/Shutterstock
Getting the right nutrients is important
Fuelling your body with the right foods prior and after exercising will give you the energy to perform better and the right nutrients to help your muscles recover.
• Pre-workout protein consumption improves athletic performance.
• Improved muscle recovery.
• Increased muscle performance.
• Improved muscle growth.
• Increased glycogen stores as your muscles use the glucose from carbs for fuel.
• Consuming a high-carb diet for 1–7 days is a well-known method to maximize glycogen stores.
• The source of fuel for longer and moderate-to-low-intensity exercise.
• Healthy unsaturated fats help to provide essential fatty acids and calories.
• May help reduce inflammation.
Photo credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock
What should you eat?
Eating a mixture of carbs and proteins prior to exercise is the best way of getting all the nutrients you need. If you opt for a full meal which contains fat, this should be consumed at least 2 hours before the work-out. If you need to hit the gym in less than an hour, then it is advised to go for a light snack.
If your workout starts in two hours:
• Whole grain toast topped with avocado spread and lean protein.
• Small sweet potato with steamed or lightly salted broccoli in olive oil.
• Peanut butter and banana chia seed toast.
• Baked Broccoli Cheese and Pepper Omelette.
• Chicken breast with sweet potato and green beans.
If your workout starts in less than 2 hours:
• Greek yogurt and fruit.
• Whole-grain cereal and milk.
• Oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ cup of fruit.
• Apple Peanut Butter Energy Bites.
• Hummus and carrots.
Photo credit: farbled/Shutterstock
It is important to refuel your body after exercising in order to ensure a faster recovery. The right nutrients will help your muscles rebuild and repair. Combining proteins, carbs and just a bit of healthy fats will ensure a smooth recovery.
• Post-Workout Banana Bites
• Apple Cheese Crackers
• Easy Spinach and Egg White Omelette
• Hard-Boiled Eggs with Carrot Sticks and Nuts
• Hummus and Pita Bread
• Homemade chocolate milk
• Whole Wheat Tuna Fish, Hummus and Spinach Sandwich
• Salmon with Sweet Potato
• Grilled Chicken and Mixed Vegetables
Photo credit: De Repente/Shutterstock
Don’t forget to hydrate yourself!
Water is vital to ensure an optimal performance of your body. Studies have shown that good hydration helps sustain and even enhance workout performance, while dehydration will significantly decrease your performance. Furthermore, specialists recommend consuming a beverage that contains sodium to help retain fluids.