How to Fuel your Body

Sarah B Headshot
By: Sara Boroski

Picture this, you are sitting on your couch scrolling through your Instagram explore page and you happen to come across an outstanding fitness account. Sitting there intrigued by their latest deadlifting video, in their vibrant purple colored leggings, Juggernaut black tank top, and a $50 weightlifting belt. Slightly motivated, you scroll through their account some more and you see a picture of a beautifully displayed four piece pancaked/cookie masterpiece, topped with a scoop of cookie dough ice cream. Layered on top are sprinkles, chocolate drizzle, and of course, the infamous “one tablespoon”-actually five, of peanut butter.

Sitting there drooling over the protein pancake that you wish you could make, you scroll some more and then only to find a photograph of this person with a rock solid six pack. With your mouth wide open, you close the app, put on your running shoes, and go for a run- hoping one day you will be like that person on their account. Not ever taking into consideration of how many filters they used or if Photoshop was involved. Subconsciously, starting a cycle of thinking that it is okay to eat poorly and still seeing results, just like the fitness fanatic in that Instagram account.

We, as a society are guilty of this, or at least a handful of people are. Social media has become a battle field of reality verse fantasy. It has become a battle field for body image, religious, and political issues that do not become relevant to us until it becomes too late.

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So the question is now, how do we stop this vicious cycle of thinking we can chow down on that protein pancake- that probably has the calorie intake of a whole day’s worth of food? The solution? A balanced diet. Seems simple enough- three ounces of protein, half a cup of a carb/ starch, 1-2 cups of vegetables, and heathy fat. Notice, I said generally, because that is generic. Everyone’s body is different; everyone metabolizes food differently. So therefore, your diet is like your own personal puzzle- that you have to figure out on your own terms.

The second question, how do we know what to take in more of? How do we measure what we need to eat before and after a workout without under or over doing your diet? This is where the fun comes in to play. You experiment! Add or take away from the “food puzzle.” Have fun with listening to your body! The article, Should You Eat Before a Workout? claims that you should eat something before you go for a workout! The reason being is that muscle break down is more likely to happen. Which isn’t what you want to do.

There are three things you should do when thinking of eating before a workout:

  1. Right timing
  2. Intensity of the workout
  3. Fuel Up (1)

Right timing, is very important! The closer to a workout, the simpler your food should me. It should usually be a carb, like a banana, apple, or a bowl of cereal, or even some pulses (beans, lentils, legumes etc.). In the book, written by, Cynthia Sass, there is a section that talks about pulses. Aside from being great for your pre-workout munchie, they are also effective endurance boosters! A study was conducted to where athletes were given potatoes and another group of lentils, running at different intensity level until exhaustion at 80% of max effort. Do you think the potato group ran better? Nope, at 23 percent, the lentil group lasted longer and managed a better blood sugar regulation over a series of workouts.2 You want your body to absorb the nutrients fairly quickly. There are a couple reasons behind that. One reason is because your body is working to digest the food, so your energy level will be sluggish if you consume a full meal. A second reason being that you could experience cramping. As a child, remember mom always said to wait thirty minutes until swimming again? That is because she did not want you to cramp up while swimming. You want your food to be fully digested. The food that is undigested is useless fuel for you.

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Intensity is key to your diet! Are you training for a marathon, doing a crossfit (HIIT) workout, or brisk walking the Loop around campus? A lot of people (me included) sometimes go carb crazy and over-indulge. The example in the article is, “you are going on a 100 calorie burning elliptical- you do not need that 200 calorie snack beforehand.” Because that is not necessary for the workout. You will not be able to burn that all off. In talking to an RD, I asked her the same question. What and how much do you consume? Her response was this: “nutrition recommendations for athletes or people who are training are always set by duration and intensity of the training. You would also have to take into consideration the goals (lose fat, gain lean mass, etc) of the individual.  A person who is heavily training with Crossfit and able to sustain a high training volume will have a different diet than someone who is doing Crossfit 3 x per week and not able to do as much.  It’s entirely possible that a football player who trains in a “traditional” way (lifting weight, running sprints, etc), would have a similar diet to somebody who is heavily involved in Crossfit.  It’s also possible that a very recreational exerciser who lifts weights and runs would have similar dietary needs to somebody who does Crossfit a few times a week.” So, just like the aticle, Mrs. Osterberg references the same. (Email communication, July 11,2016)

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The last, Fuel Up! Go back to Number One of this list to determine how to fuel up! Are you going to the gym in two- three hours? Eat more of a complex meal- your body will be able to break down and absorb the nutrients. But if you are heading out the door, a piece of fruit would be perfect to fuel your workout without give you cramps and sluggishness.

You are done with your workout, what do I eat now? In at least thirty- forty-five minutes from your workout, you want to eat some veggies, and your healthy fat. Most importantly, keep it real! Know what you are consuming- in general. The healthiest and most nutritious foods are the foods that you can easily pronounce- that includes an ingredients label on the back of a meal/ protein bar. Your body will not absorb chemicals easily, but it will with real food!

Now, I think it is time you go grab yourself a banana, your running shoes, and get our there and kick some butt with all the energy you will be fueling yourself with!

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References:

  1. Borsari K. Should You Eat Before a Workout? Daily Burn. http://dailyburn.com/life/health/pre-workout-fuel/. Published February 19, 2014. Accessed August 3, 2016.
  2. Sass C. Chapter 4 Slim down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. 1st ed. New York, NY.: Harper Collins; 2015: 105
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