Food for Fitness

What you consume before, during and after a workout is crucial to your fitness, performance and overall health. Rather than relying on supplements and energy bars, limit processed foods that are implicated in numerous health conditions. Instead, choose real foods that are close to nature with ingredient lists as short as possible. This will help to keep your blood sugar stable and help you avoid unnecessary sugar, salt, fat and artificial ingredients. Before your activity, fuel your body with enough energy. That way you won’t waste our time working out while feeling sluggish or lethargic. An hour before, choose easily digested carbohydrates such as fruit and grains. Top a piece of toast with some defrosted berries or have a bowl of oatmeal with sliced banana. Keep yourself well-hydrated during our activity by having 1 cup of water for every 15 minutes of exercise.

If your energy levels tend to plummet during your workout, whip up a homemade power drink by combining 1 cup of orange juice with 1 cup of water. This ratio absorbs quickly into your system and gives you that boost of energy and hydration your body needs. If you sweat a lot, you may want to add a ¼ teaspoon of salt to the drink to replace electrolytes. The salt, combined with the potassium from the juice, will re-hydrate your body more effectively. Store-bought sports drinks contain sugar for energy and have electrolytes for hydration but they also have artificial ingredients, like colouring.

Energy drinks are similar but also contain ingredients, like caffeine and taurine, which are not recommended for children or people with various health conditions. In reality, most people do the best with good old-fashioned water! To help repair and build your muscles, ensure you eat a protein-based meal within one hour of working out. With your after-workout snack, also remember to consume some carbohydrates so your body doesn’t use up the protein as fuel. Make a smoothie with fruit, plain yogurt or milk and hemp seeds, which contain 20 grams of protein in 4 tablespoons. Alternately, have your lunch or dinner after your workout and choose a balanced meal of veggies, lean protein (fish, chicken or legumes) and whole grains (quinoa, barley or brown rice). If you’re on the go, consider an egg or salmon sandwich on sprouted-grain bread. By eating real food, you can keep fit inside and out!

This is the third instalment of an 11 week series of articles presented by local experts in the field of Fitness, Cycling, Nutrition and Psychology. Each of our experts will bring a slightly different perspective to help you implement and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and to help you make better and healthier choices in your life.

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