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Eating to help recovery after a workout.

Exercise and food sometimes don’t go hand-in-hand for some, as we all exercise for a whole number of reasons, with weight-loss being top of many people’s list. To achieve their targets they not only have to exercise, they also have to eat the correct food types and make sure that their body recovers properly ready for their next workout, to do this they need to re-fuel your body and not starve it.

There are people who think that weightloss will come with a ton of exercise and a small amount of food. This type of relationship with exercise and food will start off ok, yes you will be burning more calories than your putting in BUT then it will all fall apart quickly . If you don’t fuel your body properly your performance during your sessions will start lacking energy, you will fatigue more easily and consequently you will start failing to hit your targets including your weightloss ones.

If you start an exercise program and you cut-off your calorie consumption straight away your body can go into ‘starvation’ mode. This means that anything that goes into your body albeit good or bad food will be grabbed and the calories stored away by your body as its starting to worry about where the next lot of fuel is coming from! This will make it harder to lose weight from the in the first instance, so start off sensibly, look at food portions and what’s actually on your plate. Does your plate have all the food groups you need on it, is it balanced out? Give your body a chance to get used to the stresses of exercise, let it recover properly and become acclimatised to your new program in other words look after it!

Once you’ve got your program sorted and have completed a few sessions now is the time to delve more deeply into the nutritional side of your goals. Remember to get your body moving at optimal levels you have to refuel it properly. After workouts that means putting nutrients that you have lost and also that help repair and strengthen back into your body. To do this you need to know the proper food groups that will benefit you and help you achieve your goals whether its for performance, fitness or changing your body shape.

If you have performed either cardio or a strength workout they both need nearly the same foods to help your body’s recovery, unless you are an elite athlete who has to look at their nutrient intake minutely. The two main important nutrients you must consume are both carbohydrates to feed your depleted muscle glycogen levels and protein which will aid recovery and help build and repair the muscles. The best time to begin your recovery is around an hour after your workout eating a balanced meal with both the nutrients we have discussed above. For example if you workout after work then eat something to give you a boost around 1-2 hrs before your workout such as a banana this will give you an energy boost from the carbs and sugar, then after your workout have your evening meal this could be some sort of lean meat or fish, vegetables such as broccoli and a source of carbohydrate such as whole grain rice or sweet potatoes these carbs are called complex carbs and are digested much slower than the normal simple carbs such as white pasta and normal potatoes, they also typically have more fibre and other nutrients in them such as vitamins etc. To get the benefits of complex carbs always make sure your choosing whole grains over processed ones so foods such as whole-grain pasta and whole-wheat breads.

So there you have it a simple way to make sure you are re-fuelling properly after your workout to make you body ready for your next session. Remember portion control is an important part of any healthy eating plan. If you consume more calories than you are burning in your exercise program you won’t lose the weight and hit your targets. If your under-eating then your body will clutch onto anything you put in as it starts to worry when the next meal will be coming from, this form of dieting will also deplete your energy levels and could even slower your metabolism and don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout too as remaining hydrated helps you feel energised and alert and can also be the answer if you appear to be hungry in between meals.

Obviously exercise will make you hungry but the knack is too eat the right nutrients to aid recovery, help your muscles become stronger and repair them, to feel fuller for longer so you don’t want to snack as much on the sugary snacks we all reach for if we get hungry. Finally though I thinks It's also important to remember that with all the hard work your doing in the gym it's nice to give yourself a treat once in a while so break out the dark chocolate and have a couple of squares it won’t undo all your good work if it’s only occasionally and it does taste great!

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