Lessons in Mindfulness in Nutrition to Maximize Training
What are we thinking about today? My husband and I were discussing nutrition and training. As we were talking, we realized how much our diet and how we eat can either optimize or destroy the effort put into a workout. I wanted to share words of wisdom with you today on this very subject.
Have you ever walked into the gym day after day to work on losing weight, becoming stronger and healthier only to feel like you are not making any progress? What is happening? Is it the workout or what you are eating? Is it something you are unaware of? When you read through research and articles on the best-known practices, it almost seems to change year after year and makes it difficult to know what is real.
I remember being told that if I loaded up on carbohydrates prior to my workout, I would have the energy needed to keep me going. However, I found that this practice only provided maximum energy for the first 15 minutes. I would then make it through my workout, go home, and start eating to provide food for recovery so I could finish the day. I felt like I was losing ground. I was supposed to feel energized after a workout. I needed to have enough energy to take me through my workout and beyond. Who would have thought that eating the right foods every day would help me before, during and after training?
As a Sports Nutrition Coach along with my BS Degree in Physical Education, Health, and Coaching, I do my best to keep up with the research related to exercise and nutrition. As stated by the Mayo Clinic “Sports nutrition focuses on good eating habits all the time…” They also support the concept that when training for endurance one may eat more carbohydrates days before the event. And protein after the event to provide for muscle repair and growth.
Let’s look at five tips that can benefit you whether you are doing a casual workout or training for a competition. Take these five tips into consideration.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. If you exercise in the morning, try to give yourself enough time to finish your breakfast at least one hour before your workout. Consuming carbohydrates before a workout can improve your workout performance and allow you to exercise longer and possibly at a higher intensity. If you choose not to eat prior to your workout you could feel sluggish or lightheaded while you exercise.
Suggested breakfast options:
- Whole-grain cereals or bread
- Low-fat milk
- A cup of coffee is okay…if you need it to get started
It is possible to drink a sports drink prior to your workout. Also be aware that if you decide to try a new breakfast food before your workout, you could risk an upset stomach.
- Watch the portion size. Be aware of how much you are eating, especially before a workout. The general guidelines suggest:
- Large Meals. Eat these meals at least 3 to 4 hours before exercising.
- Small meals or snacks. Eat these at least 1 to 3 hours before your workout.
If you eat too much prior to your workout, you could end up feeling sluggish. Not eating enough, on the other hand, you might not the energy you need to keep feeling strong and energized throughout your workout.
- Snack well. Most people are able to eat a small snack right before and during workouts. Do what works best for you and determine what snacks work for you. The snack you eat just prior to your workout probably won’t give you added energy but may prevent you from having hunger pangs. If your workout is longer than 60 minutes, you can benefit from eating a carbohydrate rich food or drink during your workout. These snacks could include:
- An energy bar
- A banana, an apple or other fresh fruit
- A fruit Smoothie
- A whole-grain bagel or crackers
- A low-fat granola bar
- A peanut butter sandwich
- Sports Drink or diluted juice
- Eat after your workout. Your muscles need to recover and replace their glycogen stores. Eat a meal that contains carbohydrate and protein within two hours of finishing your workout. If your meal is more than two hours away consider having a snack. Good post-workout food choices include:
- Yogurt and fruit
- Peanut butter sandwich
- Low-fat chocolate milk and pretzels
- Post-workout recovery smoothie
- Turkey on whole-grain bread with vegetables
- Drink up. Don’t forget to drink before, during, and after your workout. You need adequate fluids to help prevent dehydration. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends:
- Drink roughly 2 to 3 cups of water during the 2 to 3 hours before your workout.
- Drink about ½ to 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. You may need to make adjustments in relation to your body size and the weather.
- Drink about 2 to 3 cups of water for every pound of weight you lose during the workout. You need to replace the water weight you have lost to dehydration during your workout.
If you exercise 60 minutes or longer, a sports drink can help replace the electrolyte balance in your body and provide you with a little more energy.
Let Experience Be Your Guide
Everyone is different and requirements before, during, and after exercise may vary. Pay attention to how you feel during your workout. Take a look at your overall performance. Let your experience guide you on eating habits before and after workout to determine what is best for you. Keeping a journal to help monitor what you eat before workout, snacks during your workout and the meal after your workout so you can adjust your diet to allow for your optimal performance.
Remember, your performance is affected by what you eat two to three days prior to your workout. Make sure your diet includes carbohydrates, protein, calcium, and fiber (grains), but control the portions you eat. Remember…EVERYTHING IN MODERATION.
Remember: Stay Fit, Stay Young, Stay Alive
Enjoy the Learning
“To bear and not to own; to act and not lay claim; to do the work and let it go; for just letting it go is what makes it stay.” – Lao Tzu