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Making the Most of Your Workout

If you asked 10 different trainers what to eat to fuel performance and enhance recovery, you’d probably get 10 different answers.  Some trainers take a brief course in nutrition, but one class won’t teach everything you need to know.



Here’s what to focus on:

1. What: Consume carbohydrate before you workout

Why: Carbs are the in source of fuel for our bodies. To maximize your performance, provide your body with some carbs to burn rather than forcing it to turn to protein.  In turn, by leaving the protein available, you will improve muscle recovery.

How: It’s important to have the right type and amount, so as long as you’re not doing cardio for more than an hour, a banana, English muffin with jam, or oatmeal is a great pre-workout snack.

2. What: Carbohydrate and protein after your workout.

Why: Not only do you need to replenish energy stores, but you need to rebuild muscle.  Both carbs and protein are needed to do that.

How: Skip the protein shake, you don’t need it! While you’re at, skip the creatine, the BCAA supplement, and anything else that might be in your gym bag.  Eat some real food because there are micronutrients in there that help our bodies in ways we don’t even understand yet.*  The best options are balanced choices such as a yogurt and fruit, peanut butter and banana or a turkey sandwich.

*FYI: There are more BCAAs (branched chain amino acids, for any non-supplementers reading this) in one serving of chicken breast than in your powdery substance of unknown (laboratory) origin anyway.

3. What: Drink water – before, after, and all day long!

Why:  Even if you can’t eat a snack, your body can still produce enough energy to get through your workout using stored energy.  What it can’t produce is water.  Proper hydration is probably the most overlooked yet most important factor in short duration (< 1 hour) performance.

How: Have water throughout the day but also have 8-10 oz. 10 minutes before exercising and at least 8 oz. afterward.  The best way to tell if you’re getting enough is to weigh yourself before exercise and again after. If you lost weight then you didn’t drink enough during your workout (assuming you were of adequate hydration prior to exercising).

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