“Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom”
~ Jack LaLanne
Whether you are a high school athlete, yogi, long distance runner or walker, or a weekend warrior, what you eat before, during, and after exercise can make all the difference in how well your body will perform and recover.
NUTRITION BEFORE EXERCISE
Fueling up for any practice, game or training regimen requires preparation. It begins the day or night before with meals consisting of nutrient rich foods and proper rest. The following day it’s important to have your pre-workout or pre-game snack or meal approximately 2-4 hours prior to the event. The foods that you choose should be easy to digest. If you choose a heavy or overly spicy meal, you could run the risk of feeling upset and bloated. Also, if the meal isn’t digested before or shortly into the event, your meal could be stuck in your stomach and not accessible to the muscles for much needed fuel. Any undigested food left in the stomach can sit there heavily creating fatigue and abdominal muscle spasms.
In general, you should aim for meals or snacks consisting of fat, fiber and protein as this combination will keep you feeling fuller longer. Pre-game though, you want a lower fat, fiber and protein content. Too much protein can lead to muscle cramping and decreased endurance. Protein is necessary for muscle building and not needed for fuel. A simple carbohydrate will be the healthiest, such as a fruit which burns more slowly increasing effectiveness. Adding a fatty acid such as coconut oil will provide quick energy to burn as fuel in the liver. An example of a pre-game snack would be dates filled with coconut oil. YUM!!
HYDRATION BEFORE, DURING ND AFTER
Proper hydration before, during and after the game or exercise time will decrease the stress on the body allowing it to work harder, perform better, and recover quicker. Much needed electrolytes will decrease muscle cramping and spasms allowing for better performance. Pure water is important as are electrolytes that can be found in coconut water and homemade hydration drinks helping to maintain smooth muscle contractions and energy levels. What you consume for fuel and hydration is totally in your hands. No one is going to do it for you. So listening to your body is once again extremely important because it can be the difference between an elite performance or a very mediocre one. Fuel up wisely.
NUTRITION AFTER EXERCISE
After a hard workout or game, you want to eat a meal within 30 – 45 minutes for cellular reconstruction and recovery. Your meal should consist of high quality food, including 1 part protein to 4 parts carbohydrate. A wholefood shake consisting of 1 piece of fruit, a large handful of your favorite greens and a handful of hemp seeds or raw almonds all blended up is a great way to refuel immediately following any physical exercise. Too much protein at this time will slow down recovery and should come from an alkaline source.
An hour later, you still don’t want to indulge in a large meal. Large amounts of food require an increase of blood to the stomach causing it to work harder while digesting. Oxygen is needed in the bloodstream so the muscles can recover. Post-game or post-exercise nutrition needs alkalizing foods to repair the body by decreasing lactic acid buildup and physical stress. Another quick and easy snack would be to blend a frozen banana with 1 cup almond milk and 1 cup of kale.
“Food is Fuel”
A balance of nutrients comes into play.
- Consider a lean protein for muscle repair (organic chicken, wild caught fish, nuts and seeds such as hemp)
- A whole grain to nourish muscle tissue (brown rice, millet, quinoa)
- Lots of produce to supply much needed whole foods (colorful vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, apples)
- A healthy fat to aid in healing and circulation (avocado, wild caught fish, coconut oil, nuts, olive oil)
- More fluids for rehydration
Treat your body to perform its best possible. Not only does this mean providing nutrient rich wholesome foods but it also means knowing what not to put into your body. Sugar creates inflammation in the body and can be found in numerous processed foods and drink. Sugars can also lead to the production of fat specifically around the middle. So let’s fuel your body with nutrient dense foods and proper fluids leading to a healthy and active body.