Athletes and exercise enthusiasts often overlook the importance of fueling up — and then refueling — with the right nutrients when they engage in physical activity. And in order to perform your best, you have to take the time to choose your fuel wisely.
Conflicting nutrition advice and the enormous selection of sports bars and snacks on the market can make this decision more challenging than your workout.
My advice: Keep it simple! And remember that you know what works best for your own body.
Think about taking a car for a road trip. You won’t get very far with the gas tank on empty. Just as you would not take a car out on empty, you also would not fill the gas tank with the wrong type of fuel.
Your muscles and brain rely on carbohydrates for energy. Fueling up will allow you to compete harder and longer because you will not be thinking about how tired and hungry you are halfway through the game.
Choose a snack that has 200 to 300 calories up to one hour before a game or other physical activity. But stay away from high-fat foods. Better to have a snack that is high in carbohydrates and protein. Good examples include graham crackers with peanut butter, trail mix, Greek yogurt sprinkled with dry cereal, and low-fat snack bars.
Look for a snack bar with a short ingredient list, low in sugar, with high protein and fiber. Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites are packed with 7 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and are a source of vitamins and minerals. They are even gluten-free and dairy free! They’re great to throw in your gym back and eat when you are on the run, no dishwashing required.
It can be tempting to reward yourself with unhealthy foods after a long game or an exhausting practice. But you need to fight that urge.
Instead, think of your post-workout fuel as an investment in your health. If you treat your body right, you will have many healthy, active years ahead.
You should try to eat within an hour after training. But this is a case of “better late than never,” so eat when you are able to.
When you do, choose a snack that is high in carbohydrates to refuel depleted glycogen in the muscles, along with protein to help with muscle repair. An English muffin with peanut butter, pretzels with hummus, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich are all great ideas.
Remember, also, to replace the fluids lost through all of your blood, sweat, and tears. Chocolate milk is a better option than sports drinks, which often contain artificial sweeteners and low electrolytes.
CoCo Libre organic coconut water is another tasty option for replenishing fluids. It contains five electrolytes, 40 calories per 8 oz., and no added sugar or fat. It even has more potassium than a banana!
Treat yourself and your body to the right before and after workouts for better results.
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Posts by Kelly Springer, RD
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