Timing is Everything
It is a proven fact that exercise must be accompanied by a healthy diet to yield results; anyone who disagrees is selling something. The real benefit comes from perfectly combining food with exercise to boost your metabolism and enhance muscle growth. The basic guideline is carbohydrates before a workout and protein after, but what foods provide the greatest advantage?
To gear up for a heavy dose of exercise, eat foods high in carbs about an hour beforehand; any sooner and you risk a stomach ache on the treadmill. Also, drink plenty of water no matter how early or late. Dehydration will cut your workout short and keep you from reaching your full potential.
Bread with peanut butter and bananas is a delicious snack that won’t leave you feeling stuffed during your workout. The bananas will also help keep you full for a long time and the protein in the peanut butter will ready you for a vigorous exercise session.
Maybe you are a morning workout person who likes to get their sweat on before the day gets crazy. In that case, make oatmeal your daily breakfast. It is a slow-release food that will keep you energized and full for your entire workout. Adding fruit to your bowl will increase flavor and water to keep you hydrated.
Craving a fruit smoothie? Indulge before your workout to get your protein and energy level up. Be sure to use Greek yogurt and real fruit to avoid unnecessary calories. This snack is also good for those always on the go as it can be drank while arriving at your exercising destination.
Pasta is an excellent meal to have the night before a day of exercise such as hiking or running a race. While it is the perfect example of a meal high in carbohydrates, pasta is filling and can have negative side effects if eaten too close to a workout. A night out at an Italian restaurant is sure to prepare you for an intense day.
After you have had the pre-workout meal and the workout, it is time to cool off with more food. The rule here is protein, whether it is a shake or a full plate. Stick to lean meats and vegetables while keeping away from foods with a high amount of sugar and fat. Protein eaten within two hours of a workout greatly increases muscle repair and growth.
Avoid red meats and stick to chicken and fish following exercise. Salmon, tuna and halibut are the best fish for protein intake. Delectable sides include vegetables (peas, corn, broccoli and spinach) and rice (quinoa and brown rice).
Potatoes are also a yummy side dish, but regular potatoes often use salt and butter that are calories your body does not need. Sweet potatoes, however, add the extra flavor naturally. They also have complex carbohydrates that will help fill you up after feeling the burn.
Chocolate lovers out there will be excited for this next one: chocolate milk. The combination is high in proteins, carbs, calcium, sugar and best of all, fluids. It is important to replace the water you lost while sweating and chocolate milk is an excellent way to do that.
Healthy eating does not mean starving yourself or avoiding the foods you love. It is all about when you indulge and how well you combine your favorite foods with daily exercise.