Food is Fuel- Learn How Food Can Propel You and Your Workouts Forward
Your body has the ability to function like a well oiled machine. With the right amount of hydration and nutrition you’ll be able to fuel up, and crush your workouts. Results- here I come!
In order to keep your energy high and workouts powerful, you have to fuel up. Knowing how and when to nourish your body can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be. Think of your body like a machine. Every fine machine needs maintenance and fuel to function. You’re the same way. Your body runs on macros and micronutrients. Macronutrients such as proteins, carbs and fats are nutrients your body needs in large amounts. Macronutrients make up your general caloric intake. Micronutrients are those that are required in smaller amounts. Three main examples are vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals/phytonutrients. According to the USDA, on a daily basis the average American adult should be consuming-
- 45- 65 grams of carbohydrates
- 10- 30 grams of protein
- 25- 35 grams of fat
Are you hitting these amounts each day? If not, it’s time to up your intake in a smart and healthy way. Gaining the right knowledge, and focusing on giving your body what it needs, will take your workouts to a new level.
Hydration (ok technically not food but so important)
First things first, let’s talk about hydration. Ok it’s not technically food but without it your body can’t function. Getting enough water keeps your body moving, functioning properly and your mind sharp. Not to mention it contributes to you staying on top of your game during a workout.
Hydration is one of the most important things you can do for your body. Drinking water, and I mean plenty of it before, during and after your workout is key. It’s like giving a plant plenty of water so it can thrive. You wouldn’t buy it to just sit on your windowsill dry as a bone drooping, drying, or shriveling would you? No of course not, you give it what it needs. All living things crave hydration and your body is the same way. Water regulates your body’s temperature and helps lubricate your joints. Without proper hydration your body won’t be able to master your push thrusts, WODs or your routine successfully. Depriving yourself of water or not getting enough, also makes you more inclined to muscle cramps, dizziness or fatigue. Ugh all the things keeping you from crushing it. Hydration is essential and will help you sustain your stamina.
But how much water is enough? In reality there isn’t one particular number you must reach but you can take several things into consideration when figuring out your total water intake. Take your sweat rate, how long you plan on crushing your workout or the conditions you are working out in. All of those play a role in determining how much water you need.
Play it safe and shoot for a recommended 15.5 cups of water for men and 11.5 cups for women each day. Just keep in mind that if you’re going to push extra hard or hitting the gym twice a day, up that intake! A little extra water never hurt anyone. And try mixing it up a bit. Don’t just fill your bottle with regular H2O. Make it enticing, refreshing and something you look forward to. Add some lemon slices, cucumber or mint and I’ll bet you’ll think hydration never tasted better. Think of your goals: you want to be able to push harder, longer and be stronger right? Absolutely, so start getting your sip on and stay hydrated.
Pre Workout- Fuel to ignite the fire within
Now that you know the importance of hydration let’s talk about food. Food is fuel- delicious, nourishing fuel and when understood it can take your workout to the next level. The trick is knowing how and when to nourish yourself.
Make sure you know when you’re about to lace up and then begin to prep your body. Maybe you’re working out early in the morning, great. Maybe you can slip away from work for a midday class, or you’re grabbing a session after work. Regardless, you're going to need fuel. Plan ahead and make sure you have a mixture of protein and carbs at least two hours prior to your workout. Why? This combination helps your body sustain its workouts and rev up so you’re ready to rock.
Once you nail down your workout schedule you can begin to meal prep. Start prepping about two to three hours before your workout. This way your body has time to absorb the nutrients. But what should you prepare? Fats and fiber slow down your digestion and may cause some discomfort during your workout so it’s best to keep those low. Healthy carbs are fuel for not only your body but also your brain so make sure you’re including these to power through your workout.
If eating two hours before your sweat session incorporate a complex carb and some protein into your snack or meal. Complex carbs take longer than simple carbs to break down and have been known to be the best source of fuel for physical exercise. Healthy carbs like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain breads, fruits and vegetables with some hummus are good “go to” options.
And trust me even though carbs have gotten a bad rap over the years, they truly are good for you! The right type of carbohydrate will fuel the brain and body
Pre workout options (2-3 hours before)
✔️paleo trail mix like this one on page 9 of CrossFit Threefold’s Coaches’ Recipe guide
✔️whole grain toast with avocado- jump on the avocado toast trend it’s so good
✔️lean protein and brown rice (think chicken burrito bowl)
✔️a cup of oatmeal with fresh berries
Pre workout options (1 hour before)
✔️plain greek yogurt with fresh berries
✔️banana with all natural nut butter and honey
Make sure what you put in your body is clean and full of nutrients. Nutrition is such an important part of your success. Don’t waste your hard work on empty calories, give your body what it needs and treat it like a temple- nourish it and reap the benefits.
During Your Workout
Depending on the duration and intensity of your workout, you may or may not need a mindset break to refresh. If your workout is less than an hour of high intensity exercise make sure you stop to rehydrate about every 20 minutes. Hydrating your body helps it function at its best. So keep taking small sips throughout your workout and push yourself forward!
Post Workout- Time to Replenish and Start Building Muscle
When working out, your muscles use up glycogen or your body’s preferred fuel source. As a result- your muscles become a bit depleted of it and start to break down. So what can you do? You can fuel up. After your sweat session it’s your job to refuel your body with the right foods so your muscles can rebuild and become stronger- regrowing your muscle proteins.
When you eat the right nutrients, in this case a combination of healthy carbs and protein your body will respond positively. Remember the plant we talked about earlier? It’s the same with your body. A plant needs hydration after a hard day of soaking up the sun, and your body needs fuel after a hard workout.
Since protein helps repair your body and is one of the three most important macronutrients, it’s essential to get the right amount post workout. Eating protein is going to help repair your muscles and propel you forward.
Great options for post workout carb and protein combos-
✔️eggs/whole grain bread
✔️salmon and brown rice or quinoa
✔️protein shake and banana
✔️pita and hummus
There are so many options to help you recover and refuel. The key is knowing what to put in your body and when. You can’t be afraid to give your body what it needs because quite frankly your workouts ask a lot of that “well oiled machine.” But it can only stay that way with hydration, nourishment, and tender loving care.
A Healthy Relationship
Start thinking of food as your best friend, not the enemy. Don’t restrict yourself or worry about counting calories- those tactics don’t work long term. Instead focus on understanding how important it is to give your body substance. When you eat clean and give your body the right amount of macronutrients it needs, your workouts will soar to a whole new level. You need to refuel your tank, energize and help push your brain and body to what it’s capable of doing. So go ahead, customize a nutritional plan just for you and you’ll be surprised how far you can go.