Fuel For Fitness
Please enjoy the following post by Ambassador Jessica @sugarruns who’s worked on nutrition and fuel for the past 6 months. Using guidance from a nutritionist, Jessica has learned a lot of useful information that she credits to helping her PR at Chicago.
Educate yourself on how food can act as fuel for your fitness activities. Learn what to eat and what to avoid before a race, during training, and for recovery.
Proper nutrition is essential to becoming a healthy athlete. Food plays such a big role in our performance and knowing the science behind it can help you make better choices to fuel your training properly and help you recover faster.
What to eat before a race:
Night Before: Natural carbs (vs manmade pastas). Try a sweet potato with black beans. Or spaghetti squash with ground turkey and veggies.
Morning of: Combo of simple carbs and fats. Try an apple or banana + peanut butter or a drink that has 15-20g of carbs + some form of fat (peanut butter, avocado, etc).
Avoid: The huge carbo load idea. Loading yourself with highly processed man made carbs before a race can leave you bloated and heavy on race morning, slowing you down. Many people also tend to avoid fiber during this time. I embrace it. You want to be able to relieve yourself on race morning – high processed, carbs only prevents that. I always include veggies into my prerace meal. Rule of thumb is to stick with natural foods in their natural form – rice, quinoa, potatoes and vegetables – and cook them in a simple way that provides the most nutrients. I steam my veggies and potatoes. These provide more sustainable energy.
What to Eat After a Workout: Within 30 minutes consume something with a 4:1 balance of carbs to protein. My favorite, quick, convenient choice is a Picky Bar. The high carbs replenishes your glycogen levels you just burned during your workout. The protein helps rebuild the muscle fibers you just tore. Your body will process a liquid much faster, so you can also opt for a veggie, protein based smoothie. I love combining steamed then frozen cauliflower, half a frozen banana, ½ cup of frozen butternut squash, chocolate protein powder and almond milk for a recovery smoothie.
Within 2 hours after a workout, you want to have a high carb, moderate protein, low fat meal. This will continue the repairing of your muscles. I like a chicken turmeric stir fry with brown rice or a chicken quinoa bowl topped with mango and cucumber. Protein is the most important part of this meal, so make sure you are getting 4-6 ounces of it.
Recovery Foods: Recovery is essential to keeping our bodies in good shape and helping prevent soreness and chronic pain. Once I get into my training, my muscles are constantly sore. A high fiber, anti-inflammatory diet can help stave off sore muscles and speed recovery of tough workouts. Here are a few anti-inflammatory and recovery foods and how to use them in your diet.
Turmeric – roast veggies, make chia seed pudding, add to smoothies.
Tart cherry juice – add to smoothies, mix with chocolate protein powder for a chocolate cherry recovery drink
Collagen peptides – this repairs muscle fibers and provides added protein. Add to smoothies, coffee, oats, etc.
Bone broth – the protein helps repair muscles and the minerals and collagen help keep your gut healthy. A healthy gut allows your body to absorb nutrients more efficiently, in turn, allowing you to recover more quickly and gain strength. Sip on its own, or add turmeric, black pepper, and a bit of sea salt and make a super anti-inflammatory beverage.
Lots of veggies – Veggies are such a good source of fiber and supply naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that reduce inflammation. Try broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, brussel sprouts, etc.
Foods to Avoid in General:
Processed food (this does not mean packaged food. Just look at the ingredient list. It should be short and easy to understand.)
High sugar foods (sugar causes inflammation, so say goodbye to sweets). If you have a sweet tooth like I do, you can have a good high quality dark chocolate (stay within good portion sizes) for dessert. Or make fruit your dessert and treat – pair berries with chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are hydrating and offer good fiber and fat but will still feel like a treat in the pudding form.
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