Food for Fitness
Headed to the gym for a quick workout? Joining that yoga class after work? Many of us are working out for weight loss or maintenance but overestimating the amount of burnt calories through moderate exercise is all too common. Here are a few tips to prevent outeating your exercise.
Breakfast for That Morning Fitness Class
Fat-burn fitness classes in the morning are usually low-intensity sessions that target your cardio health — walking, cycling, yoga, golf and similar exercise require little fuel. Before your morning workout, focus on hydration and have a small carbohydrate-rich snack such as a mini bagel, small granola bar, fruit smoothie, fresh fruit or a toast. That will fuel your muscles enough to make it through the training. After the class, eat a balanced breakfast with whole grains, fresh fruit and lean protein. This could be a hard-cooked egg, a slice of whole-grain toast and 100-percent fruit juice, or oatmeal with berries and fat-free milk, soymilk or nut milk.
Fuel Your After-Work Gym Session
If you are hitting the gym for a good hour after work, make sure to eat the right lunch 3 to 4 hours before you exercise. Balanced choices are grilled chicken salad, turkey sandwich on multi grain with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, half a grilled cheese with a side salad, or a whole wheat veggie wrap with cheese and a cup of tomato soup. Need something crunchy? Choose baked chips instead of fried. A light lunch like this provides enough calories and protein to fuel a late afternoon workout. For a small energy and carbohydrate boost prior to your training session, eat a banana, orange or a handful grapes. Drink plenty of water or unsweetened tea throughout the day to give your muscles the perfect hydration. If your workout lasts longer than 1.5 hours consider a homemade sports drink: just mix a cup of 100% fruit juice with 3 cups of water and add a pinch of salt.
Building Muscles after Your Workout
After working out, every minute counts. First rehydrate with water to compensate for water loss through sweating. If you’re heading home right after exercising and eating dinner within 2 hours, you don’t have to snack – your balanced dinner will have you covered. If your dinner is delayed, however, plan to bring a small carbohydrate- and protein-rich snack such as a protein bar, cup of chocolate milk, Greek yogurt, string cheese and a few crackers, or a cup of low-fat milkshake. This combination of protein and carbohydrates provides the perfect fuel for your muscles to build up and recover nutrient losses. Make sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to ensure good muscle recovery through vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
Rewarding is a Trap
Be conscious about your post-workout nutrition as rewarding a good workout with high-calorie, fatty foods, or high-calorie drinks is a trap that will undo all your efforts in the gym. Don’t reward yourself with foods, instead, get a new pair of sneakers or treat yourself to movie night after making the first few pounds.