Being healthy is not neccessarily about eating less. Whilst it’s important to watch your calorie intake, eating too little or too irregularly can lead to dizziness, low mood and fatigue. It can also hinder your progress by causing cravings and the urge to overeat.
By ensuring that you are regularly supplying your body with good quality nutrition throughout the day you will see far better results in the gym and feel better for it too.
Exercising without adequate fuel is like trying to drive a car with no petrol. Food eaten before exercise should be relatively low in fat and fibre, moderate in protein and high in carbohydrate in order to maximize maintenance of blood glucose (and therefore energy levels).
After exercise your dietary goals are to provide adequate fluids plus protein and carbohydrates to replace muscle glycogen and promote recovery.
An ideal pre-workout snack is a banana and a couple of oatcakes; this will give you a boost of energy without weighing you down.
Post-gym, try a chicken sandwich on wholemeal bread or a smoothie prepared with a handful of fresh or frozen berries, live yogurt, ice cold milk and some ground flaxseeds.
© Sarah West Nutrition
The best pre-workout meal depends on exactly what time of day you’re going to be in the gym. If you’re an early riser who fits it in before work you’ll need to keep it light. However, if you’re working out later in the day you can get away with a bit more as you’ll have more time to fully digest it.
It takes the body approximately four to six hours to digest fat, around three hours to digest protein and about two hours to digest carbohydrates. It is therefore important to keep things simple and focus on consuming mainly carbohydrates directly before a workout.
By eating too much fat or protein, your blood will rush to your stomach for digestion while also trying to fuel your exercising muscles. As a result, it might not do a very good job of either (leading to indigestion and lack of energy).
Bananas are a great choice if you don’t have long before your workout (i.e. less than an hour). These are a very quickly digestible form of carbohydrate and are also packed with potassium, which aids in maintaining proper nerve and muscle function.
If you are able to eat several hours beforehand, try a meal based around wholemeal pasta. This is a great way to increase stored energy in the muscles and give you the extra oomph you need later in the day.
© Sarah West Nutrition