Eat food to fuel your workouts!
Its now early February and your exercise regime should be becoming a little easier - I hope. If not then push-on and remember why you started and how you feel at the end of a workout and when you see some progression - it’s a fantastic feeling when you are able to deadlift a weight that positively scared you when your PT suggested it! All that hard-work is starting to pay off, you feel more energised, positive about life in general and your sleeping much more soundly!
The next question I am going to ask is whilst your focusing on your exercise program are you looking after yourself too? Its very easy to feel good especially once you start seeing some progress but if you not looking after yourself before, during and after your workouts you will be at risk of burning out, lowering your immune system and getting poorly, meaning that you will have to miss out on the exercise for a period of time so your body can recover properly.
Its really important to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need to replenish, feed and fuel your body, especially in the winter when the germs are hanging around the most! Your first port of call should be your daily food diet, so look at what you are consuming on a daily basis. Try and eat less processed foods, more vegetables - all the colours of the rainbow, more lean meats so you have your protein intake and more complex carbohydrates such as whole-grains, that are high-starch food instead of white pasta/rice as the complex carbs will make you feel fuller for longer as they are digested slower so a much better option for healthy eating plans they are also packed full of fibre which is great for being regular and also aids in controlling your cholesterol, they can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.
Proteins help your body by providing the building blocks which are called ‘amino acids’ to repair, maintain and build that muscle your working so hard for. Essential amino acids are ones that your body cannot produce so we have to get them from our daily diet, so eating milk, meats, eggs, fish, cheese, yoghurts and also plant sources such as tofu, quinoa will all help your body obtain the adequate essential amino acids. As some of the high protein foods are also high in saturated fats it is sensible to look at low fat versions such as leaner meats of low fat yoghurts etc. After exercise you can aid muscle recovery by eating a snack which has both protein and carbohydrates, as you increase your activity your need for protein will increase as well as your carbohydrate intake, the latter to help with energy expenditure - it’s all very well doing lots of cardio to aid weight-loss but you have to refuel your body and take care of it, if you don’t it will start letting you down.
The last important nutrient is healthy fats - NOT SATURATED - so no fried chips!! Fat found in avocados and oily fish is a really important part of a good diet that fuels your body for exercise. Fat is known as ‘our largest reserve of energy’ as we have what looks like an unlimited storage capacity for fat in our bodies. While the calories from this fat aren’t able really to be tapped into whilst performing short high intensity efforts such as fast interval sessions, it is an important fuel source for much lower intensity exercise like a long, slow indoor rowing session, a cycling session or a walk. Although it’s not tapped into as a fuel source during short bursts of speed sessions it has to be used to get into the stored carbohydrate that is in our body called glycogen. It is really important to check out how much fat you are consuming daily and making sure that fat intakes are no more than 35% of your total intake from food, with the bad saturated fats not to top 11% of your total intake from foods.
The last piece of the ‘looking after yourself jigsaw’ is water, make sure you stay well-hydrated, once you get thirsty they you are already slightly dehydrated. Make sure your drinking water throughout the day and especially when your exercising so definitely before, also during and after your workout, if its an unusually long one or a higher intensity session then a sports drink with electrolytes in may be best as it will replenish the salt and other nutrients you lose whilst sweating.
Lastly if you put all the above into practice you will be promoting a sensible healthy eating plan that will definitely help you to achieve your goals and targets for 2019, if you eat well, sleep well and stay committed to your goals, fuelling your body not starving it, then you will reap the rewards of consistent effort and hard work.