Healthy Living: Fueling your workout with food

If you’re making an effort to exercise, make sure you’re doing all you can to maximize that workout by fueling your workout with food.

The American Heart Association makes a comparison to fueling the workout the way you would fuel a car, saying you don’t want to drive a car without gas and you don’t want to workout without food.

Before hitting the gym, the American Heart Association suggests eating healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereals (with low-fat or skim milk), whole-wheat toast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.

If you’re tight on time, an apple or a banana would be a good choice.

But while eating before your workout helps you through it, eating after your session helps you rebuild.

“If you don’t eat immediately after class, or within a small window after class, your body is going to start going after things like muscle for fuel,” East Shore YMCA wellness coordinator John Blymier said.

Blymier says the type of workout you do and the timing are two things to consider.

“You’re probably going to want to eat at least 30 to 45 minutes before you come in to workout, that way it gives your body a chance to start processing that food and allowing that fuel to be available for your workout,” he explains.

As for the type of workout, Blymier says if you’re taking a 45-minute yoga class it isn’t as important to “fuel up” prior but should eat 30-45 minutes before taking a 90-minute hot yoga class, lifting, running or participating in a high-intensity class.

After that workout, Blymier says first reach for real, unprocessed foods before grabbing a protein shake or bar. 

Try a meal or snack should include healthy carbohydrates and protein like whole-grain toast with peanut butter or whole-grain crackers with canned tuna or salmon.

If you’re looking for something easy, several studies say chocolate milk is the best post-workout recovery.

And speaking of fluids, those are key to success before, during and after your workout.

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