Easy Ways to Eat Like an Athlete
Family Features | 5/6/2014, 12:35 p.m. | Updated on 5/6/2014, 12:35 p.m.
(Family Features) It is common to pair an exercise routine with a plan to cut calories and improve eating habits. While this good old fashioned approach to getting in shape is a smart and healthy one, it’s important that your new diet provides adequate nutrition to fuel your exercise.
Food is your body’s energy source, and giving yourself a boost of energy before your workout is a sound strategy for powering your workout. Afterward, you will have depleted a good portion of your energy reserves, so it’s important to refuel post-workout, as well.
While your doctor or a nutritionist can help you determine your body’s exact needs based on your physical activity level, age and body type, you can get started keeping these tips in mind:
Create an eating plan that incorporates carbohydrates and protein, as well as fat in moderation. Carbohydrates are what the body converts into glucose, which in turn, muscles use for energy. Protein slows the absorption of carbs, prolonging your body’s access to the energy they provide. Your body needs moderate amounts of fat, too, which can be found in a wide range of low-fat foods such as milk and lean meats. Aim to incorporate each of these food categories into every meal.
Timing when you eat will affect how much energy you have to exercise. A small snack before you get started may give you the power you need for a successful workout.
Before beginning a workout, start with a warm-up. Rather than static stretches (holding a stretch for a period of time), which can actually have an adverse effect on your muscles, incorporate a dynamic stretching routine with more movement to get blood flowing, increase muscle temperature and kick-start your nervous system.
While working out, and throughout the day, stay hydrated. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day, and more if your workouts are strenuous or lengthy. Also avoid caffeine, which may give you a short-term boost but actually dehydrates your body.
Within one hour of finishing your workout, refuel your muscles with a dairy-based protein beverage. Milk contains high-quality protein and essential amino acids that can be particularly beneficial in building and maintaining muscle mass when combined with exercise. Several recent studies suggest low-fat milk after exercise can help increase lean muscle.
“Milk is an excellent source of natural protein,” said Blake Atkinson, director of brand management for Shamrock Farms. “For people looking to build and tone lean muscle, a smart addition to their post-workout nutrition is a beverage that contains calcium, vitamin D and potassium, all of which are essential nutrients naturally found in milk.”
One example is the new Rockin’ Refuel Lean Recovery, a protein beverage made with 100 percent real milk has the recommended 2:1 carb to protein ratio for muscle recovery. The beverage offers 17 grams of high quality protein with no sugar added.
Just as you need to give your car gas to make it go, your body needs fuel to perform its best, especially when you’re starting a new fitness program. Proper nutrition will give you the energy you need to create new healthy, active habits to last all year long.
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