With all this talk about keeping active, we should also talk about proper nutrition for active people! Eating well is important all the time: the food we eat provides the building blocks for our body’s cells, but it’s especially important when we are increasing exercise to make sure we are giving ourselves the proper fuel to perform at our best.
Eating for performance
The key to eating for performance is to make every mouthful count. You won’t need to eat more than usual if you’re increasing exercise, but your body does require nutritious food that is high in vitamins and minerals. The easiest way to achieve this is to include a wide variety of unprocessed foods like wholegrain breads and cereals, vegetables (particularly leafy green varieties), fruit, lean meat, legumes and dairy products.
Top tip – minimise or avoid take-away foods, cakes, soft drinks and alcohol as they contribute little in the way of important nutrients and displace the healthier foods in your diet.
Timing of your meals around your exercise routine can also help to get the most out of your workouts. A meal high in complex carbohydrates 1 - 2 hours before your workout can give you the energy to get through it. Complex carbohydrates, like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, rolled oats, vegetables and fruit are the powerhouse foods that offer a slow sustained release of energy, perfect for fueling you through your workout. Allowing your body enough time to digest the meal is key here, to avoid giving yourself a stitch!
Try some of these easy ideas:
Natural muesli with fresh fruit
Baked beans on wholegrain toast
Tuna pasta salad
Porridge with yoghurt and nuts
To help your body recover after your workout, there’s a two hour window when it’s most effective to eat a meal with some protein, to help your muscles rebuild and adapt more quickly. However, you don’t need special supplements for this. Simple meals that combine protein, healthy fats and complex carbs are perfect, like some of these meals:
An egg on wholegrain toast
Handful of nuts and seeds
Chicken sandwich with lots of salad
Banana smoothie with Greek yoghurt
Remember, the focus should not be on trying to reduce kilojoules but on trying to increase your vegetable intake and get a wide variety of whole foods. Eating more whole and less processed foods will automatically reduce kilojoule intake and allow your body to get the nutrition you need. Happy eating!
During the month of April, the YMCA are offering 10 Visit Pass Cards for free gym and pool access at their Recreation Centres to all Premier’s Active April participants. Sign up for free, as an individual or a family, and receive access to your local YMCA plus a bunch of other great offers!