Fuel your workout

HEALTH:

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.

EXERCISE:

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.

278378820688404198_jxsLVERX_cBy 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).

NUTRITION:

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

Advertisements

The power of protein

HEALTH:

Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body.

When you eat foods that contain protein, your digestive system breaks them down into basic units called amino acids. These amino acids are then re-used to make the proteins needed to maintain your hair, skin, nails, bones, blood, internal organs and muscles.

EXERCISE:

Resistance workouts are a form of stress, which triggers muscle breakdown and can make you feel tired and sore. They also deplete critical amino acids such as glutamine, valine, isoleucine and leucine.

It’s only after you’ve completed exercise that your muscle tissues begin the rebuilding process, so it’s important to replenish lost nutrients to help the body recover.

NUTRITION:

Consuming high-quality protein following a tough workout helps provide your body with all the necessary amino acids needed to help repair muscle fibres damaged during exercise. Protein also promotes growth of new muscle as an adaptation response to your training, helping to boost your metabolism and increase fat burning.

Try a chicken or tuna salad served with sliced avocado and hard boiled eggs for a protein-rich post-workout snack.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Fantastic fish oils

HEALTH:

When the words oil and fat are mentioned, dieters tend to run for cover. However, what many fail to realise is that the essential fatty acids found in oily fish produce hormones that regulate digestion and insulin production.

Insulin reduces fat used for fuel instead promoting fat storage, so by choosing the right fats, you can actually boost weight loss.

EXERCISE:

Studies indicate that a combination of moderate exercise and regular consumption of oily
fish can help to significantly reduce the total proportion of fat in the body, particularly in
the abdominal region.

It is believed that omega-3 fatty acids increase the elasticity of blood vessel walls and flow of nutrients to muscles during each workout. Exercise equivalent to taking a 45-minutes three times a week appears sufficient to produce this benefit.

NUTRITION:

For a healthy, omega 3-rich snack, try blending one 125g can of mackerel fillets (in olive oil), 1 tbsp cooked chickpeas, 1tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp chilli flakes, 3 tbsp chopped parsley and the juice of 1 lemon in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper and serve as a pâté on ryvita or oatcakes.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Ditch the scales

HEALTH

When trying to trim down, the numbers you see on the scales can really make or break your mood and motivation. However, it is a mistake to assume that your weight is always a true measure of your progress.

If you are exercising regularly you may be putting on muscle whilst losing fat (thus losing inches without losing pounds). It’s therefore a better idea to take regular body measurements rather than simply rely on the numbers on the scales.

EXERCISE

For every extra pound of muscle you put on, your body uses up around 50 extra calories a day. This is because muscle is metabolically active and burns more calories than other body tissue, even when you’re not moving.

Training with weights just 3 times a week for around 20 minutes is enough to help you build muscle. Not only will you be burning more calories but you’ll look leaner and fitter, whatever your weight.

NUTRITION

 You don’t need to overeat to build muscle, but it is important to focus on the quality of your food choices. Rather than consuming empty calories, try to choose natural, nutritious foods that your body can really benefit from.

You can start by ensuring that each of your meals contains at least one form of fruit or vegetables, a small portion of whole grains (such as brown rice, wholemeal bread or whole wheat pasta) and a good, lean protein source.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Snack attack

HEALTH

Although you may feel guilty about snacking, eating between meals doesn’t need to be a weight loss disaster. In fact, grazing on small amounts of food throughout the day can help you to avoid extreme hunger and prevent you from overeating at your next meal.

The key is to keep moderation and balance in mind. Select foods that will satisfy your hunger, supply your body with lasting energy and provide you with key nutrients. If it doesn’t fit this description, then don’t eat it!

EXERCISE

After a workout try snacking on a handful of raw unsalted nuts, celery sticks with peanut butter, some cottage cheese with fruit or chopped vegetables with hummous.

The protein in these snacks is important for preserving existing muscle mass (which can help boost your metabolism) and will also help keep you full up for longer, without undoing all your efforts in the gym.

NUTRITION

The key to healthy snacking is preparation. With a little planning you can ensure you always have a selection of healthy snacks in your bag or desk drawer so that you’re ready to make the right choices when temptation strikes.

By keeping the right kinds of foods handy, heeding your hunger pangs can become an important part of your weight loss journey.

© Sarah West Nutrition