If you are going to put in the effort to exercise, you might as well get the most out of it.
One of your best tools to increase the benefits of exercise is good nutrition. Getting the right nutrition can take a workout from good to great.
Properly fueling your body before you take that first step out the door is important for two reasons: to enhance athletic performance and to maintain lean body mass.
Multiple studies have shown that a properly fueled body performs better. The fuel you need comes mostly from carbohydrates. Also, having a steady stream of glucose right before and during your activity has been shown to improve performance.[i] The longer (and more slowly) you are exercising, the more your body turns to fat as an energy source.[ii]
Lean body mass
Making the effort to ensure you are getting the right nutrition can help you to increase your lean body mass.[iii] A measure of the amount of muscle you have on your body, lean body mass is closely tied to your metabolism: Increase lean body mass and you increase your metabolism.
Muscle is made of protein. When you exercise, consuming carbs and protein has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis.[iv] Protein in your diet can even help with recovery and strength as well as lean body mass.[v]
Before your workout:
As a general rule, it is a good idea to eat a few hours before any workout. Here are some ideas about what to eat to fuel your efforts:
Pre-workout drink Drinks are a great option for people on the run and those who want to make sure they are getting the nutrients their body needs. Choose the ones that are balanced and contain fat and protein. You can also try the Performance Zero Calorie Energy Drink to jumpstart your workout.
Shakes: Shakes are a great way to get a lot of nutrition quickly. Try one delicious recipe with Life Energizing Shake from the Fresh Flavors
Yogurt and fruit: This combination offers another quick and easy choice that provides a wide variety of nutrients.
Eggs: Some athletes swear by eggs for a pre-workout food. Add in some greens, avocado, and toast to get a good blend of macronutrients.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is another food athletes have relied on for years; it gives a steady supply of energy because it is digested slowly. Try adding in fruit (fresh or dried) and even nuts (almonds, walnuts) for a greater variety of macronutrients.
Stay with the principles of fresh foods and high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and you should have a great workout and get the best results from your efforts.
[i]Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala M, Jeukendrup AE, Phillips SM. Nutritional needs of elite endurance athletes. Part I: Carbohydrate and fluid requirements. European Journal of Sport Science. 2005 Mar 1;5(1):3-14.
[ii]Lowery LM. Dietary fat and sports nutrition: a primer. Journal of sports science & medicine. 2004 Sep;3(3):106.
[iii]Hawley JA, Burke LM. Effect of meal frequency and timing on physical performance. British Journal of Nutrition. 1997 Apr;77(S1):S91-103.
[iv]Tipton KD, Elliott TA, Cree MG, Aarsland AA, Sanford AP, Wolfe RR. Stimulation of net muscle protein synthesis by whey protein ingestion before and after exercise. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2007 Jan;292(1):E71-6.
[v]Westcott W, Varghese J, DiNubile N, Moynihan N, Loud RL, Whitehead S, Brothers S, Giordano J, Morse S, Madigan MA, Blum K. Exercise and Nutrition More Effective than Exercise Alone for Increasing Lean Weight and Reducing Resting Blood Pressure. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online. 2011 Aug 1;14(4).