Nutrition

Fueling Your Workout The Smart Way

Lubna Daghash/ Clinical Dietitian Student
Qatar University
08 March, 2017

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When it comes to health, “Exercise and a balanced diet” should not be separated! They are two arms of the same body and no matter what your health or fitness goals are, both lifestyle practices are an essential part of your health routine. Exercise impacts what our body does with the food we eat and how those foods may impact us. For example, our body won’t use the protein we consume to feed our muscles for growth if those muscles are not being exercised; Undoubtedly, if you’re dieting and not exercising you’re more than likely to be losing muscle mass and struggle to lose fat mass.

“You don’t have to adhere to a rigid schedule and there are no hard-fast rules,” said Riska Platt, M.S., R.D., a nutrition consultant for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “But there are some things you should do before, during and after you work out.”

If you like morning exercise...

Exercises that does not require huge effort - such as walking, riding a bike, doing yoga- requires very little fuel (energy). Your main focus is to stay hydrated and take a small carbohydrate-rich snack, such as 500 ml of water and a slice of bread or a 100-calorie granola bar. This will help to refuel after overnight fast without adding up extra calories. After exercising, have a smart choice of breakfast of good quality carbohydrates and protein. For example, it can be a boiled egg, a slice of whole-grain toast and 100% fruit juice or yogurt, an oatmeal with berries/nuts and fat-free milk.

Late hours exercise...

If you prefer to exercise after working hours or at night, schedule your lunch 3- 4 hours before your workout. Excellent choices include a grilled chicken salad, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.

Avoiding saturated fats and even a lot of healthy protein - because these types of fuels digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles. In addition give yourself a little energy 15 to 30 minutes before your exercise by eating an apple, orange slices or around 12 grapes, along with a cup of water. As for body hydration, water is far the best choice for exercise taking less than an hour, but consider a sports drink if you are exercising for more than an hour at a higher intensity. Exercising in a hot, humid climate like summer in Qatar, it’s important to stay hydrated with 80-100 ml of a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes.

After workout energy boosting...

Be aware to rehydrate with water after doing workouts. If you’re planning to have dinner after 2 hours of workout, there is no need for a post-workout snack. If you will have a late meal, then recover with 180-240 ml of fat-free flavored/plain milk, 180 ml of low-fat yogurt, or a cheese stick with a few whole-grain unsalted crackers.

Try not to get used to skipping meals and then exercising after work with little energy on board. Coping with this scenario, there is a big chance that you are going to overeat after your workout, because your stomach is empty from not eating enough during the day. Another mistake some can do, is rewarding a good workout with calorie- dense or fatty foods like fast food or fried food. Rewarding your exercise with high-calorie drinks/ food will mask your exercise hours and the benefit of it will be all gone; instead, reward yourself with a delicious fruit salad of your favorite mix of fruits and add extra nuts on top.

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