Imagine your body as a well-oiled machine when you exercise. This means fuelling it up before you get going and making sure that it’s running well all the way through. Not preparing your body for exercising is like trying to run your car on empty. But what kinds of nutrients should you be topping up on before, during and after exercise?
It’s recommended to start drinking water up to two hours before your warm-up. This gets your body ready to balance out the fluid loss from sweating, and being hydrated has been said to make you feel more awake and energised.
Eating healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereals, pasta or rice will fill your body with the nutrients and energy it needs to keep you going. It’s important to avoid saturated fats and too much protein as these digest a lot more slowly and use up more oxygen from your muscles.
If you’re a little more rushed for time, eat a piece of fruit like an apple or banana 5-10 minutes before you begin your exercise. These will give you a quick energy boost without making you feel sluggish or too full.
During exercise, it’s vital that you refuel with fluid to compensate for the sweating. Water is the best option, and blending it with fresh orange juice will give you a much needed carb boost too.
Eating after your workout is a must – it’s all about replacing the calories that you’ve just burned so that your energy levels don’t deplete. Carbohydrates and proteins will aid with speedy muscle recovery, which is particularly helpful if you’ve done weight training.
Not eating after exercise can leave you feeling fatigued due to low blood sugar. If you can’t have a full meal straight away, try to at least have a protein bar as a snack post-workout to help kickstart that repairing process.
The beauty of nutrition is that everyone is different, and you can experiment with different carbohydrates and proteins to create meals that you really look forward to after exercising. Once you get to know your body, you’ll start to realise what feels the best and what your body really craves!