If you’re tired of dragging through your workout, consider what’s on your plate. Giving your body the right fuel before, during, and after a workout is just as important as the positive mindset and determination needed to swim one more lap when your arms feel like Jell-O, or do a few extra minutes on the dreaded StairMaster. To increase your performance and energy during your workout, incorporate nutrient-rich foods into your “fitness checklist.” You will most likely notice a difference before you step foot inside the gym or go out for a run.
Pre-Workout: Before exercising, focus on preparing your body with the power it needs to sustain your workout. A recent article by Fitness Magazine, “What to Eat Before and After a Workout,” suggests combining simple and complex carbohydrates to give you steady energy throughout exercise. Carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta, and oatmeal are good options. Dried or whole fruit will provide you with quick bursts of energy to help you reach your goals. Before your next workout, try a berry smoothie made with Greek yogurt and granola or a piece of whole wheat toast with banana! The article also recommends adding a pinch of cinnamon, which has been linked to stabilizing blood sugar.
During your Workout: To maintain safety throughout your workout, it’s important to stay hydrated. While exercising, fluids and nutrients are lost through sweat. Hydrating throughout the duration of an activity ensures that lost fluids are being replenished. In most cases, water will give your body the hydration it needs, but if activity lasts more than two hours or is high-intensity, choose a quality sports drink with proteins, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides additional resources to help alert you to the symptoms of dehydration in the article, “Hydrate Right During Physical Activity.”
Post-Workout: After your workout, focus on recovery. Consider taking tips from professional athletes who pay close attention to choosing whole foods packed with nutrients, to maintain overall health and boost performance. A diet of lean protein, eggs, nuts, dairy, whole grains, and healthy fat helps you keep up an active lifestyle. After your workout, grilled salmon with a sweet potato and steamed vegetables give you the right mix of proteins and carbohydrates for a nutrient-dense meal. For more meal ideas, check out this guide provided by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
In addition to proper nutrition, stretching after a workout when muscles are warmed up, can reduce the risk of injury. South County Physical Therapy, Inc. has provided easy, step-by-step stretching guides that you can follow from your own living room. Try the Inchworm for a full body exercise that develops muscle control or if you’re trying to loosen your hamstrings, SCPT recommends the Active Hamstring Stretch. Regardless of skill level, athletes sometimes experience injuries. SCPT has the ability to meet all conditioning, injury prevention, and rehabilitation needs. Please connect with SCPT at 508-832-2628 for additional information.