Sometimes when people first start an exercise program, they hear buzz words like “carb loading” and “protein shakes” and think that they automatically need to be adding all of this stuff into their diet. The thing is, these kinds of nutritional strategies are only needed when in very intensive training. In terms of workouts, you are likely not training for more than an hour, which means that you don’t really NEED anything extra (provided you are eating a balanced diet throughout the day) except for water! Once you hit the hour mark, we’ll start talking about carbohydrate supplements. Super long training (like 5+ hours) and our focus shifts to fats!
How much water, though? For all workouts, you’ll want to consume 4-6 ounces of water for every 10-20 minutes of activity. So, think about ADDING another full 750ml bottle of water to your day (picture a regular ‘Camelback’ bottle or equivalent).
Tips to keep in mind
- You’ll want to avoid eating immediately before a workout. Food will just sit in your stomach, and when you exercise, digestion shuts down to focus our energy efforts on the activity at hand. This can lead to some not-so-good feelings.
- Avoid commercial drinks and gels (or at least – check to make sure they aren’t full of artificial sweeteners and colours
- The more you sweat, the more you need to replace electrolytes (which is what Gatorade is trying to sell you on). So for outdoor summer workouts in humid weather, we’re sweating a lot. You may want to think about a natural alternative like coconut water which contains electrolytes. You can also eat dulse (a seaweed), or check out some of the higher quality supplements like nuun tablets (you just dissolve those in water)…
- Eat properly throughout the day. If you aren’t doing that, you may get HANGRY when you start working out regularly and end up binging on whatever you can find in the moment. Prevent this by putting a big focus on protein and fat in all of your meals.
- Listen to your body: Go to sleep when you are tired! Especially if you are doing an early morning workout, your body will need extra rest so try to get to bed early! Human growth hormone is essential for muscle repair, and when sleep is interrupted, levels of this hormone decrease.
- Severe cramping? This could be due to an electrolyte imbalance. It could be potassium (in which case try 2 tsp apple cider vinegar in water… if this helps, add more potassium rich foods to the diet like apples, banana, avoado, mushrooms, yogurt, spinach). It could also be calcium/magnesium (you can get this from raw cacao which is my personal fave, but also dark leafy greens, broccoli, Natural Calm magnesium supplement). Green smoothies can help get all of these minerals in quickly and deliciously.
After Your Workout:
Fifteen minutes to an hour after a workout, your muscles are primed to receive fuel to begin the repair process. Your meals after a workout should be easy to digest! The perfect meal will hit all of your macronutrient groups. A great meal: avocado (healthy fats) with sea salt (electrolytes), eggs (healthy fats & protein), and a plantain cooked in coconut oil (simple, easily digestible carbs and more healthy fat!)