Valerie Johnston from Healthline.com reached out to me not too long ago asking to write a guest post to share with all of you! When she explained that she wanted to write an article about “Eating Right For Exercise” I thought that it would be a perfect fit for all of my readers. While we all know it is important to be active as much as possible and fuel ourselves with fresh fruit, veggies, and lean proteins it can sometimes get a little overwhelming when we try to figure out exactly how we need to be eating, when, and how much. Valerie does a great job of presenting a no-nonsense article with three simple tips to help you feed your body what it needs.
Thank you Valerie for sharing how we can fuel our bodies while living an active lifestyle no matter what kind of activity we are completing.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.
Eating Right for Exercise
We all know we need to exercise and eat right to stay healthy. But what do those two things mean together? Does what we eat play any role in how effectively we exercise? Well, yes. Exercise is incredibly important on its own, and so is food. But we need both of them, and one plays into the other. Eating the right foods in the right portions at the right times improves the benefits of exercise. How? Here’s a look at what you need to know about the ways in which eating and working out come together.
1. Fuel Up
First, it’s key to know that successful exercise depends on adequate energy. Working out on an empty stomach may seem like a good idea – you worry you may upset your stomach and, after all, you want to lose calories, not gain them. But you definitely want some food in your belly when you exercise.
Otherwise, you’ll be working out while your blood glucose levels are at their lowest, known as fasting levels (glucose is basically just a chemical name for sugar). This is like driving with no gas. And this is where things stand when you wake up every morning. If you exercise when your blood sugar is low, and your body runs out of glucose to burn, it will start to consume muscle tissue instead, and you very much don’t want to lose that.
But it’s important to eat the right foods, both before and after you exercise. Foods high in simple carbohydrates, such as fruit juices, will give you lots of glucose but not the kind you really need. Your blood sugar will spike quickly but eventually it will crash, leaving you feeling hungry and weak again. If you add high-fiber cereal and skim milk, though, you’ll be supplementing the simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates, fiber and protein, leading to a balanced rise and fall in your blood sugar over a longer period of time.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet, Every Day
A regular workout routine demands a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein and fiber, along with adequate vitamins and minerals. And not just before or after you exercise, but every meal and snack, every day. Carbohydrates cause the greatest rises in blood glucose levels and tend to have the greatest impact on energy levels and exercise abilities.
A diet high in simple carbohydrates, such as breads, juices, potatoes and starchy junk foods, leads to frequent spikes in blood sugar levels. The body copes with this by producing increased amounts of insulin, the hormone that reduces glucose levels in the bloodstream. But when spikes come down, they crash, leaving you hungry, fatigued, moody, and eating frequently.
To prevent this, it’s imperative to include the right mix of carbohydrates, protein and fiber in your diet if you want to be in physical condition to exercise regularly. This means whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, eggs, lean meats, fish and poultry, among others.
Of course, whether you’re exercising or not, you should limit your fat intake. Total fat should account for no more than 20 percent of your daily diet, saturated fat should be limited to 7 percent, trans fat should be eliminated entirely or limited to no more than 1 percent, and cholesterol should be limited to less than 300 milligrams a day.
3. Snack Right
Rather than eat three big meals every day, fuel your exercise routine with three smaller meals and a couple of healthy snacks in between. Focus on complex carbohydrates, low-fat proteins and high-fiber foods. Yogurt with low-fat granola, low-fat smoothies and ants on a log all make great choices.
Eating right is a critical part of exercise. With a poor diet, workouts lose much of their effectiveness. With the right diet, energy and exercise combine to keep you healthy. Follow these simple steps to fuel up for exercise the right way.