Monday, January 3, 2011

Best foods/drinks before, during, & after exercise!! Treat your body right!

There are a ton of myths surrounding the best way to take care of your body before, during, and after exercise. Supplements are not the way to go, and although they make promises of extra fat burn, reduced appetite, increased energy, protein, etc., they are nothing but money-making gimics and scams designed to make YOU, the consumer, pay extra, unecessary money for something your body can get better sources of from the normal food we eat. When it comes to food, we all know that our bodies need a little bit of everything for normal function and activity. Depriving yourself completely of any one substance, such as carbohydrates, fats, protein, & sugar will have negative effects on your body, especially when it comes to energy expenditure, also known as exercise. On the other hand, we know that too much of any of these can also have negative and unhealthy effects on the body as well.
Before exercise: Let's start with the primary source of fuel of your muscles, which as most of you know is carbohydrates. You've probably all heard of "carb loading" which is term that refers to eating large amounts of carbohydrates in the days leading to a marathon or long  competitive event by an athlete. Most people are not doing long endurance-like marathons and do not need excessive amounts of carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates can also cause gastrointestinal distress, such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, and nausea. Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles as glycogen in the days prior to exercise, which is one reason a POST-exercise meal is so important to not only replace this, but prepare the body for it's next workout.
So when do you eat the carbohydrates? Working out on a full stomach is never a smart idea. Not only will it probably slow you down, it has the potential to make you sick (nausea, vomiting, & cramping). You should let the meal you have before your workout fully digest before you begin your exercise. A meal usually digests in about 4 hours. (Less or more depending on how much you've eaten, and how bulky). If you work out early in the morning, it is a good idea to wake up early to have time for your body to digest it's meal, OR have something small to eat or drink that can be easily digested about a half hour before you're due to hit the gym.
Glucose, which is the primary component of carbohydrates, is the primary energy source. So your before-workout meal that you have a few hours before should consist of easily digestible carbs such as pastas, bread, fruits, and granola bars.
During exercise: The key focus is staying hydrated. But there is such a thing as being too hydrated, which often causes low sodium levels, known as hyponatremia, which CAN be fatal. In an average 30-60 minute workout a normal 16.9oz bottle of water should be sufficient, but if you are thirstier, that is your body telling you it needs more. Even if you don't feel thirst, it is important to maintain adequate fluids. Nothing compares to real water, but drinks such as gatorade, vitamin water, and other electrolyte-enhanced waters can be beneficial during periods of rapid sweat-loss (which can lead to electrolyte imbalance).
After exercise: After your workout, you should eat pretty shortly after.  This is the most important meal of the day for active people. Amino acids (the building blocks of protein-used for making muscles, bone, hormones, etc.) AND carbohydrates are essential post-workout. A good protein is whey protein, but for the average person, we don't have the time or money to make or buy a whey protein shake. Other good sources of protein would be lean chicken, beans, egg whites, fish, soy, & cheese. Protein is essential after workouts because it helps feed and repair any damaged or depleted tissues. The average person should consume about 0.15 to 0.25 g of protein PER pound of body weight. Carbohydrates (and as you can see by reading this, are NOT the devil as seen by many people) are essential not only before your workout, but after. Good and healthy sources of carbohydrates for after your exercise would be brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread or fruit juice. Within two hours of work out, 0.3 to 0.6 grams per pound of body weight of carbohydrate is essential to building adequate glycogen stores for your next workout.
Hope this helps all you active people out there! And if you're not active, start, at least it's an excuse to have some extra carbs! :)

Have a Healthy Day! <3


  1. So, will eating after my workout help me burn fat (like a snack of cheese and crackers)?

  2. No. you're fat loss will take place during exercise and you do continue to burn calories for about 30 mins after. Protein builds muscle and is crucial to repair tissues after exercise, but will not promote extra fat burn.

  3. Hmm...more muscle sounds good and a snack after working out kinda screams ::happy:: I'll give it a go when I start hitting the gym next week.
    Oh, is it true that if you only do one kind of exercise (like riding a bike or using a treadmill) that your body will get used to it and will stop burning fat during that exercise?

  4. not stop burning fat completely, but your body will adjust and not burn as much, one reason why rotating routines is beneficial :)