As a health and nutrition coach, people often ask me: What do I eat before I exercise to make sure I have enough energy to get through? What do I eat after my workout to recover? These are important questions, because what you’re eating could be sabotaging your workout results! A one-year Stanford University study of 350 men and women found that those who worked out three to five times a week for 30 – 40 minutes had NO significant weight loss! How can that be? It’s due to what, when and how people eat before and after their workouts. Filling up with the right fuel at the right times is essential to keeping your energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode!
Top Tips for Fueling for Fitness
• Hydration is more important than you can imagine. Start drinking water as soon as you wake up. In the morning, you haven’t had water for six to eight hours and your cells need replenishing. Drink a full glass of water before you eat or drink anything else (sorry, coffee doesn’t count toward hydration). Plain hot water will actually penetrate the cells the fastest.
• Stay well-hydrated throughout the day. It won’t work to just start drinking water right before or during your workout. Hydration is an ongoing process. If you’re not drinking enough water, you will run out of energy – both mentally and physically.
• A daily goal is to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces a day – more in very hot weather or if you plan to have a rigorous workout. Hydrating regulates your body temperature, replaces water lost through sweat, and helps transport nutrients to your cells so you have energy.
Did you know that most people are chronically dehydrated? Dehydration is a key reason for low energy, headaches, poor concentration, muscle cramps, and digestive issues. Take a moment to think about your day-to-day water intake; are you getting enough?
Avoid "Sports" Drinks
Contrary to popular belief (and advertising), Gatorade (or Vitamin Water or Propel or Powerade) is NOT a good hydrating choice, particularly if you want to maintain or lose weight. Why? These drinks contain high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, as well as other ingredients you want to avoid such as food dyes. High-fructose corn syrup, aka sugar, can make you hungrier by increasing your body’s hunger-regulating hormone (ghrelin) and lowering the hormone that tells you when you’re full (leptin). Artificial sweeteners have been shown to increase sugar cravings, and many contain unhealthy chemicals.
Instead, if you feel you need more than water after a heavy workout or in very hot weather, turn to “nature’s water” – coconut water. Choose only those brands that are 100% pure coconut water, with or without natural fruit – no sugar added! My family likes the brand ONE- energizing hydration pure coconut water no sugar added.
Depending on your health and your likes, You can also add Chia seeds to your water for energy! Chia Seeds are known as running food. Chia was first cultivated by the ancient Aztecs who would go on marches for days, surviving only on chia, yet being able to sustain high energy levels. Chia seeds contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper. When you put them in water, they plump up and get very soft. Before trying them do some research and make sure that chia seeds are right for you.