Guest Post: Fueling Your Workout

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I’m happy to welcome Andrea Drew, who is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Integrative Health Coach, back to the blog!

This time she’s talking about fueling those workouts that I find myself endlessly talking about and planning both here and in real life. I’ve also mentioned to you all that changing diet is the hardest part of  getting back in shape for me and I’m far too quick to use the “I worked out today so I can eat…” excuse, so I’m really appreciative of Andrea’s tips for maximizing your energy for your workout but also staying on track with your nutrition!

FUELING YOUR WORKOUT

Do you often wonder if you’re eating the right things before or after you workout? And is it the right amount? Should you carb load at night? What about needing a blender bottle and protein powder so you can drink a shake as soon as you’re finished working out?

With so many questions, it can feel like a full time job trying to figure it out (ok, I exaggerate… a part time job).

I’d love to tell you there was a one-size-fits-all answer, but the truth is… it depends. 

There are many factors you need to take into consideration. Things like:

  • What is your primary goal? Fat loss? Athletic performance?
  • What kind of workouts are you doing? Is it HIIT or CrossFit?
  • What time do you workout and for how long? 

I could go on, but you get the point.

While the needs of each athlete will vary, here are some quick tips that will get you started in the right way.

#1: Eat Real, Quality Food
You wouldn’t put diesel fuel in your gas car, would you? Or at least not on purpose [insert embarrassing giggle]. Doing that is the same way I feel about fueling your workout with refined or processed foods. It’s a (fairly) easy mistake to make and you won’t perform as you should. Start with real food. All the amazing, unprocessed foods that have always been food. Generally I recommend that your caloric intake be 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 30% protein, however, you will need to adjust the ratios depending on your needs and activity levels.

#2: Adjust Carbohydrates As Needed
Carbohydrates are a fast-acting fuel source that is broken down into glucose (sugar). If you become active shortly after eating, the glucose is used quickly. If not, it gets stored in your body as either glycogen in your muscles and liver… or as fat. The trick is that each of us can only store a certain amount of glycogen in our muscles and liver before it gets stored as fat. And that amount varies from person to person. 

The timing of when and how many carbohydrates you should eat depends on the type of training you’re doing and for what purpose. A couple things to keep in mind:

  • Pre-Workout: For the most part, carbs are useful in fueling higher intensity exercise that lasts for longer periods of time. Training like HIIT or CrossFit relies on carbs to fuel the body. That said, you don’t need to carb load for a five or even thirty minute workout. Normal, moderate carb intake should provide you sufficient fuel for that. However, if you regularly perform sixty minutes (or more) of high intensity exercise, you may need more carbs on those days.
  • Post-Workout: Your muscles get first dibs on the carbs you eat after your workout. This allows your muscles to be replenished and restored for your next workout and is one of the many benefits of exercise. The glycogen gets stored right into your muscle rather than as fat in your belly, bum (or in my case, thighs). That said, your muscles can only store so much, so monitor and adjust your intake based on your average activity level.

Pay attention to your carbohydrate intake and adjust as needed. If you felt great during your workout today, but your energy and strength isn’t as good during your workout tomorrow, try adding more carbs. Some good sources of starchy carbohydrates are: taro root, plantain, yam, sweet potato, parsnips, white potatoes, cassava, squash, beets, onions and carrots.

#3: Avoid Low-Quality Protein Powders
Protein powders in the form of a shake can be useful and effective for post-workout recovery, but there are a lot of low-quality powders with too many additives so watch the source and ingredients. 

The only source I use is collagen peptide powder (from grass-fed cows).

Collagen peptide powder provides so many benefits that I don’t even like to call it a protein powder, but four teaspoons equals eighteen grams of protein so it’s an excellent source (and will do wonders for your skin, bones, joints, hair and nails). It has also been shown to be more effective than whey protein in regards to athletic performance and building muscle.

#4: Eat 30 – 120 minutes After Your Workout
It’s important to get a post-workout meal within two hours of your workout in order replenish your glycogen stores, decrease protein breakdown and repair any damage caused by the workout.

Thank you so much to Andrea for guest posting again today! Be sure to check out her website and sign up for her newsletter. Also stay tuned because I’m going to be doing Andrea’s 21-day Sugar Detox program in July and I’ll be sharing my experience here on the blog and on Snapchat. It kicks off on July 11 if any of you all are interested in joining in on it too!

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