CONGRATULATIONS on quitting smoking – that is an impressive accomplishment! When it comes to eating, and eating to supplement your workout, here are some ways to focus your habits and get the most out of your exercise:
What should you be eating PRE workout?
When you wake up in the morning you start the day off hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) as you haven’t eaten for up to 10 hours. Training on an empty stomach in this state means your workouts are fuelled by the glycogen stored in your muscles as well as your body’s own lean muscle mass. The purpose of training should be to increase lean muscle mass to improve your metabolism, so morning training on an empty stomach would be counteracting this process.
Although you shouldn’t be running on empty, you don’t necessarily want a lot of food in your stomach either. The best time to work out is two to four hours after eating, depending on how large a meal you’ve eaten. If you work out first thing in the morning, a piece of fruit or a vegetable juice is an ideal pre-workout snack.
What should you be eating POST workout?
To allow your body optimum recovery, you need a snack or meal containing carbohydrates and protein within two hours of exercising. Straight after exercise, blood flow is still increased to working muscle. Supplying immediate sources of protein and carbohydrates to the body begins the repairing, rebuilding and refueling phases your body needs to avoid the breaking down of precious muscle mass.
Contrary to normal dietary recommendations, higher GI foods are recommended directly after exercise. This allows for the quick digestion your body needs to refuel muscle glycogen. Dates, brown pasta, bananas and potatoes are all good choices. Steer clear of fibre directly after your workout, as these will slow down digestion rather than help refuel the body.
Lean white meats, eggs, low fat dairy sources, beans and soy are all high in protein. Whey protein power is a particularly good choice as it is one of the few proteins that have a 100% absorption rate.
Should your post workout meal differ according to your type of training?
After all moderate to hard workouts, the intake of carbohydrates and proteins is always necessary. If your workout is cardio-based or moderate resistance training like running or cycling i.e. working your heart, you will need to take in more carbohydrates. If your workout is mainly strength training, you are working your muscles and will therefore require more protein.
How should your post workout meal vary to accommodate certain according health aspects?
Combining carbohydrates with protein is an ideal way for diabetics or those with high blood pressure to manage their sugar levels. They do, however, need to steer clear of higher GI foods, as these could cause dangerous spikes in one’s sugar levels. Stick to lower GI options like sweet potatoes, rice, barley and oats. Also remember that whilst eggs are an excellent source of protein, they are high in cholesterol, and those that suffer from cholesterol problems should consult with their doctor for daily allocation. The healthy adult can enjoy two eggs a day.
Identify emotional eating
I completely sympathise with the challenges of emotional eating, and it does need some attention if you want to keep it in check.You can identify emotional eating as an instant and specific craving for a particular food – I.e. pizza or ice-cream. Real hunger is more of a slow-burn and won’t demand you to eat immediately. It also won’t be a specific want for a particular food. Always wait 10 minutes when a craving hits – if it passes it was likely to be an emotional craving, not a real one.