Quarantine helps us to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is not supposed to stop you from trying your best to stay active by making good use of the space at home. So, how could you better fuel your body before and after your workout to optimize the health benefits?
Protein has drawn a lot of attention among fitness lovers due to its roles in tissue repairing and muscle building. However, the significant role of carbohydrates (carbs) should not be ignored as it is the preferred energy source for your muscles and is essential for the function of your brain and central nervous system. Insufficient carbohydrate intake in your overall workout diet may cause fatigue, lowered power, strength, and endurance. A combination of protein and carbs should be consumed pre- and post-workout.
Sample pre-workout fuel: (Focus more on simpler carbs here for easy digestion and quick fuelling for energy)
- Half a peanut butter jam sandwich
- Dried fruits with mixed nuts
- A pear or an apple with nut butter
- ½ a banana
Sample post-workout fuel: (Focus on the carbs/protein combination)
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Boiled eggs with whole wheat toast
- Smoothie made with low-fat milk and fruit
- Greek yogurt with fruits
- Toast/Bagel with cheese/nut butter
- Protein Energy Bar
It is recommended that you fuel your body about 1 to 4 hours before the workout, depending on your body’s tolerance for food. It is best not to eat immediately before your workout as your stomach needs time to digest the food. If the digestion and the muscle workout happen simultaneously, the competing demands would affect your optimal performance. You may also experience gastrointestinal discomfort if eating right before the workout. To see what time frame works best for you, experiment while having casual workout sessions. After the workout, you should fuel your body within approximately 60 minutes.
Make sure your body is well-hydrated before, during, and after the exercise. A simple way to check your hydration status is to check the colour of your urine. Plenty of pale yellow (e.g. lemonade colour) urine is a sign you are well hydrated. Producing only a small amount of dark yellow (e.g. apple juice colour) urine could mean that you are dehydrated. To know if you are drinking enough to replace fluid losses, weigh yourself just before and right after you exercise on a couple of occasions. Use the typical clothes and conditions you exercise in and at the intensity you usually exercise. Be sure to empty your bladder and remove sweaty clothing before weighing. If you lose more than 2% of your body weight during exercise, it means that you need to drink more. Weight loss right after exercise is water loss, not fat loss. Fat loss occurs slowly over days, weeks, and months.