“Use it or lose it!” You might have hear that sentence before as it can apply to our brain and our body. It is crucial to move and exercise for optimal health. Exercising doesn’t mean spending 90 minutes doing cardio and weight training at the gym every day (I actually really don’t suggest that!). Read my past blog on HIIT training to find the best and most efficient way to exercise for health and fitness results.

It’s smart to exercise!

Personally, I love how I feel after getting my workout in for the day. I am more energetic and the endorphins released keep my mood happy and positive. Exercising keeps our immune system strong, by clearing out the lymphatic system. Physical exercise has also been shown to increase brain power! It increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and reducing the free-radicals in the blood, and also supports the brains neurons by creating new ones and strengthening current ones.

Fuel for on the go!

With all the benefits of what exercise can do for you each day, who wouldn’t want to make it a natural part of their lifestyle?

So, you should just get started today, right? Absolutely! But before you do, it’s important that you consider how to best fuel yourself before, during and after the workout.

Whether you exercise regularly or are a seasoned athlete, here are some great ways to fuel your workout and support your body when exercising.

Pre-workout:

There are lots of products out there geared towards exercise recovery. But what you consume before working out is just as important as what you have afterwards! If you work-out really early in the morning, you might want to work-out and be ok energy wise to work-out on an empty stomach. If you work out later in the morning you will need some fuel before you go. Ensuring that you are properly fuelling your body before your workout will help you relieve and prevent strain and damage to your muscles. And remember that you have to give your body time to digest so that it can efficiently use the energy from the calories you have consumed. Eat these a minimum of 20 minutes before working out.

  • 2-3 Medjool dates (a great option is to pit them and then fill with coconut oil)
  • Fresh beet juice (nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, a vasodilator, which reduces oxygen uptake and make it less tiring during the exercise)
  • A green smoothie with a high quality protein powder, if you’re trying to build muscle, or a fruit smoothie with an alternate milk for cardio

If you workout later in the day, eating an appropriate meal one or two hours beforehand is essential. Make sure you get protein in and play with the % of your carbohydrate depending of the length of time of your workout or training. For example a 20 km marathon training run versus a 20 minutes Tabata session will require different carbohydrate fuelling. That being said, you don’t want the meal to be too heavy either, so ensure the portions are good.

  • Egg omelette with spinach (avoid the standard meat sides of bacon and sausage) and only one slice of gluten free toast.
  • About 4 ounces of chicken with a sweet potato, some cruciferous vegetables and half an avocado
  • For longer cardio sessions, a serving of steel-cut oats, sweetened with raw honey or maple syrup (if needed), with berries and walnuts

 During the workout:

The most important thing to keep in mind when exercising is to stay hydrated. Your body needs liquid to transfer the energy being consumed. Consume your liquids by sipping them, not drinking too much all at once, as it will weigh you down and can even make you feel nauseous.

Filtered water is great, but there are even some better options out there. Consider using coconut water, a natural electrolyte that is high in potassium. Better yet, add a small pinch of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt to the coconut water to support the sodium-potassium pump—an important part of energy consumption by the muscles. You can also add some branched-chain amino acids; this will help to quickly replenish the amino acids that are being broken down in muscle tissue efficiently.

 Post-workout:

Once you have completed your workout, there are three main things to consider. You want to:

  1. Decrease the breakdown of proteins in the body,
  2. Increase the synthesis of new protein, and
  3. Replenish glycogen (energy stores in the body).

Proper post-workout nutrition can improve recovery, bone mass, fat use and your immune system. It can also reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, as well as increase the ability to build more muscle. Since your body is working hard to pump blood throughout and support the muscles, you should consider consuming your post-workout proteins and carbs in a format that is easiest to digest.

Have a smoothie: all the nutrients are in a readily available format for digestion, especially if you are using a high quality protein powder or natural ingredients. If you are going to eat a meal, look to chicken or eggs instead of beef, as they require less work to digest and, therefore, use less blood and energy that your body could use for recovery instead.

Warning: stay away from all pre and post drink that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and colorant. Nothing should be fluorescent blue unless it has blueberries in it and nothing should be bright red unless it has beets and raspberries in it!

Reaching your fitness goals is a balancing act

In order to reach your fitness goals, remember that nutrition without exercise will only do so much. You can eat the healthiest foods all the time, but if you are not training your body to effectively use what you are consuming, you are going to reach a plateau.

The same goes for exercise without nutrition. You can workout daily (or even more), but if you are not fueling your body with the right combination of vitamins and nutrients, you will still reach a plateau.

Keep moving, fuel yourself right, and stay healthy!

FeaturedDon’t Forget About These Important Fuels When You Workout