A friend of mine wanted to lose the extra kilos he had been carrying since childhood and so he enrolled himself to the local gym. He made dedicated efforts every day. He paced up and down the treadmill, did weight training, cardio and other exercise routines but even after months of hard work he just could not manage to lose the bulge. Intrigued by this failure, the gym instructor asked him one day, ‘What do you do every day after you leave the gym?’
The answer finally pin pointed the problem.
After all the sweating, huffing and puffing at the gym, my friend got so hungry and starved that each day he stopped by at the neighbourhood pizza shop to get himself a hearty meal of pizza and fries everyday! I am not certain whether the instructor hit him with one of the weights after that answer, but that was probably the last day that he saw my friend at the gym.
While my poor friend did learn that workouts and oily, calorie laden food do not gel together what is a more important truth that many are not aware of is that while eating oily food is bad, not eating anything is even worse. It is like losing the opportunity to gain muscles at a time when the body is most receptive to it.
What you eat before and after the exercise routine is in fact pivotal in making the workout actually work for you.
Right Nutrition at the Right Time
While what you eat before a routine helps the body get ready for the oncoming stress, the post workout meal helps build muscles, repair wear & tear of the body and if done in extreme, bringing the fats back from where you tried to remove them.
Most people exercise to shed of the excess fat and replace it with muscles. If that is your goal too, then the key point to remember is to supply the body with the right kind of nutrition at the right time.
If you are not having anything substantial before hitting the gym or just relaxing after a session, you are losing key time to help the body gain muscles.
Some experts say that 90 minutes prior to exercise and the time period of 90 minutes post exercise are the best times to eat and what you eat will determine if the hard work you did will help you reach your goals. It is this crucial time period when the body is most in need of nutrition that builds muscles and most receptive to it because of the exercises done.
So if definitely not pizzas, what should your pre and post workout diet contain? Here is the answer.
You are just getting ready to put your body into lot of physical wear and tear, assaulting the muscles, straining the ligaments and therefore to prepare each body part to take on the challenge full on it is essential you get lot of carbohydrates in your diet.
This carbohydrate may best come from a fruit like an apple or a banana. It can also come from a toast, a bowl of cornflakes or a quick idli meal. What is important is to have carbohydrates that are easy to digest and thus provide the body with instant energy that it will need to work out.
Along with the carbohydrate, some protein in the form of a quick drink is good fifteen to 30 minutes before the routine to provide the body with an immediate energy source.
The meal should be taken at least an hour before the exercise to allow the body sugar level to reach its optimum level.
After a good workout of 30 to 60 minutes, the body muscles are pulled and strained. If you could get inside your body and have a look at your muscles, you will find that there are lots of torn fibres and tissues. After the workout, these tissues need to join again and become even stronger so that the next time you assault them in the same way, they are not as easily strained and you get well toned muscles.
To do this repair work, what they need is raw material which you can supply with taking a diet that is rich in protein. While artificial supplements can work here, the best thing is to take a fruit juice, a glass of unsweetened lassi or again a fruit like banana or apple.
The body has also sweat a lot during the routine which you can replenish with fluids and it also has used up the energy which can be reloaded with the fruits.
In another hours time you can supplement the body with more nutrients in the form of a meal of vegetables, roti, rice, salad and curd.
- If you eat a large meal just before you exercise, you may experience nausea, feel sluggish or end up with muscle cramps as your body is still digesting the food and not ready to process the energy needed to exercise.
- If you go hungry before exercise the stress and lack of sugar may cause hypoglycaemia a condition where you will feel excessively tired.
- After an exercise regime do not completely rely on proteins as they are more difficult to digest.
- Eat lots of greens that increase fibre content and aid digestion.
- Sip water all through the workout if you like to keep your body hydrated.
Image Credit Lachlan Hardy via cc/Flickr