Eat right to work out right
Have carbs before a workout, and lean proteins and carbs after it
An ideal pre-workout snack should be a high-quality carbohydrate 1-3 hours earlier to ensure enough muscle glycogen as fuel. Research published in the Journal Of Nutrition by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia suggests that carbohydrate ingestion can improve endurance exercise performance as carbohydrates rapidly fuel muscles, lessening some of the physiological stress of working out. Some examples are low-fat granola bars or a banana.
Avoid refined or simple sugars such as candy and fruit juice, though. High-sugar foods may cause blood-sugar levels to drop quickly during exercise, which can leave you feeling light-headed and tired. Try whole fruits like apple for complex carbs (they come packed with some fibre).
Avoid a fibre overdose. Though some fibre is required for the slow release of energy during a workout, too much fibre may stimulate the digestive system at an inappropriate time.
Hydrate the body well in the 2-4 hours before a workout. Prepare for your workout by drinking at least half a litre of water 30-60 minutes earlier. Also, avoid caffeine and alcohol for 2 hours before a workout. Both are diuretics and increase water loss.
DURING THE WORKOUT
One of the most important things to do during exercise is to hydrate the body because your body temperature shoots up and your body automatically begins to sweat to cool you down. But if you haven’t had enough water, either because you didn’t drink enough or due to excessive sweating, then you can become dehydrated. Take a water break every 15 minutes during exercise and drink about a glass each time. Alternatively, sip water every few minutes, so that you would have tanked up about 500ml in an hour’s exercise time.
Remember though, having 500ml at one go will not help. It may leave you with nausea and headache.
AFTER THE WORKOUT
Don’t reward yourself with rich food or large portions of food after exercise. The priority should be to replace the fluids you lost during the workout. Allow for a cool-down period of about 30 minutes to an hour after your workout before eating. Your post-workout meal/snack should be a combination of fast-absorbing carbohydrates and a protein that’s quick and easy to absorb. The carbohydrates will replenish your energy reserves and proteins will rebuild muscle tissues damaged during a workout.
A combination of low-fat dairy (a great recovery food with plenty of protein) like yogurt or Greek yogurt, and a fruit or berries, is the perfect combination.
Experts: Priya Barma, chief nutritionist, Shri Balaji Action Medical Institute, Delhi; Parmeet Kaur, senior dietitian, Narayana Super Speciality Hospital, Gurugram.
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