What to eat before and after workouts

Whether you are training for a marathon, trying to build up muscle, or just looking to get fit and lean, what you eat is going to have a huge effect on the performance of your workout. Arguably one of the most influencing factors on how far you are going to be able to push yourself, nutrition can make or break your workout.

Protein shakes and energy bars are frequently used by athletes, body builders, others who work out, but they are not necessarily the best way to fuel a workout. A typical PowerBar lists its first ingredient as sugar; they are nothing more than jazzed-up chocolate bars with some added nutrients thrown in for good measure.

The companies promoting most meal-replacement shakes and bars are just trying to make a profit and are not often interested in your health or wellbeing, so don’t be tricked into purchasing them. Instead of buying these commercial items, go natural.

Protein is an important nutrient that we can easily get adequate amounts of from eating the right food rather than supplementing our diet with heavily processed shakes and bars.

Eating a small snack before your workout will satisfy hunger without filling you up uncomfortably. Provided you choose a nutrient-dense food, it will give you all the energy you need to power your way through the workout.

A poached egg on a slice of whole wheat bread is an excellent choice: eggs are nutritional powerhouses and poaching them is one of the healthiest ways to cook them. This snack will clock in at about 150 calories and offers a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates to keep you going.

After a session of sweating it’s important to keep hydrated. For a post-workout snack, a glass of skim or 1 per cent milk is a great way to re-hydrate and re-energize your body. It is rich in calcium and strengthens the bones as well.

Looking to keep your body fueled and energized all day long? Consider enhancing your diet with some healthy “superfoods.” These are natural, whole foods that are abundant with nutrients.

One of the most well-known advocates of superfoods is Steven Pratt, MD, coauthor of SuperFoods RX and SuperFoods HealthStyle. His original list of superfoods includes beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, wild salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts and yogurt.

These 14 foods are packed full of nutrients and make a great addition to your current diet. They serve to improve the immune system, prevent disease and boost health in general.

By regularly incorporating some of these superfoods into your way of eating, your performance ability will radically improve. No matter how much weight you lift or how often you run, you will not reach your full potential unless you eat right for that necessary fuel.

University of Winnipeg student Sagan Morrow writes a health and wellness blog. Check it out at http://livinghealthyintherealworld.wordpress.com.

Published in Volume 63, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 5, 2009)

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