Eating for Exercise

19 Apr

We all know food is fuel, so it only makes sense that a proper fill-up is critical to a rewarding workout. Even if you’re looking to lose weight, skimping on calories before exercise is not the path to success. Not only will it result in a lack of energy, but more muscle mass will actually be lost than created.  Eating less does not equal weight loss.  Eating smarter does.

According to a professor in the health sciences department of a U.S. university, “basic exercise does not burn all that many calories.   You cannot get rid of the three pieces of pumpkin pie at the gym tomorrow. But exercise adds muscle, so that over time your body naturally burns more calories per day.”

As for exercise, it’s critical to combine weight training with high-intensity interval work during aerobic activities such as walking or jogging on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine.

Pre-Workout Meal Plan

While it’s important to eat something before exercising, be careful to allow enough time for digestion.  Your goal is to make sure that the meal is essentially gone when you start the exercise.  A good rule of thumb would be eating no closer than one and a half to two hours ahead of time.

Keep in mind that the amount of fat in the meal and the intensity of the exercise can also affect digestion time. The more fat, the longer it takes to be digested and the more time should be allowed.  How taxing the workout is can change the amount of blood needed for the muscles. If the exercise is mild, eating closer to the start time is acceptable.

As to the type of food, Thomas A. Fox, an exercise physiologist and author of The System for Health and Weight Loss, recommends fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread.  An ideal pre-workout meal consists of protein — 10 to 35 percent, carbohydrates — 45 to 65 percent, and fat — 20 to 35 percent.

Post-Workout Meal Plan

If the exercise has been intense, it’s crucial to eat within an hour of the end of the workout in order to refuel the body’s cells. “A decent-sized meal within that 60-minute post-workout period will greatly increase the ability to recover and help build lean muscle tissue,” says Jonathan Mulholland, DC, a chiropractor, exercise scientist, and consultant for the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. An ideal ratio is 4:1 carbohydrates to protein.

For mild workouts, a light snack is sufficient to tide you over until the next meal. Another good idea is eating less but more frequently, since consuming more than can be digested and burned at one time translates to the extra food turning into fat.

Finally, no matter when or how vigorous the exercise, or even if you aren’t exercising that day, be sure to ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST!  A variety of studies have shown people who ate the most in the morning are generally thinner and consumed fewer calories the rest of the day.

Source:  Everyday Health

Until next time,

Have a fit and fabulous day!



One Response to “Eating for Exercise”

  1. Gabriel April 23, 2013 at 7:25 am #

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