by Jane McIntosh, MA, CNSBefore we close out the month of May in Indianapolis and all the auto racing that goes with it, we thought we'd take time to talk about fueling your personal engine for better health and performance.
Start Your Engine
If you want to be at the top of your game physically and mentally, start with a decent breakfast. Breakfast has several benefits:
- It “breaks” the “fast” and jump starts your metabolism
- It leads to sharper mental performance during the morning
- It leads to increased physical performance later in the day
The ideal breakfast consists of a whole grain carbohydrate, fruit and protein (e.g. oatmeal made with skim or 1% milk, slivered almonds, and raisins):
- Whole grains (all three edible parts of the whole grain – the germ, endosperm, and bran- are intact) will sustain your energy level
- Fruit is full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that keep every cell in your body performing at its best
- Protein reduces damage to muscles caused by workouts and improves recovery time. When possible, choose “real” food over protein bars and powder. These will do in a pinch, but check the ingredients for added sugars (i.e. ingredients ending in “ose”.)
Warm It Up
Several hours before your workout, eat easily digestible foods, preferably whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables and protein (e.g. large green salad with lean meat (chicken) or plant-based such as tofu, whole grain crackers). The combination of complex carbohydrates and protein will keep energy levels stable and your stomach satiated during your workout.
Keep It Going
Keep fluids in balance and avoid dehydration from water lost through breath and sweat by drinking water throughout your workout. Every person’s hydration needs differ, but here are general guidelines:
- Drink 17 - 20 oz. of water 2 - 3 hours before physical activity
- Drink 8 oz. 30 minutes before working out
- Drink 8 oz. every 10-20 minutes during workout to rehydrate
Commercial sports drinks can be helpful to those exercising at a high intensity for more than 60 minutes.
Caring For Your Engine
Immediately (within 30 minutes) fueling after your workout replaces lost fluids (essential for your body’s balance) and doubles the effectiveness of tissue repair. Combine 4g protein with 1g carbohydrates (e.g. as found in 1% chocolate milk) for an optimal fuel.
This article sites: American Council on Exercise, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research