Whether you are a seasoned athlete or are thinking about starting a new exercise routine, it's important to take a good look at what you eat to make sure that you’re getting the most from your workouts. Just as you seek to establish a fitness baseline in your sport of choice at the start of any training program, consistent good nutrition forms the base of a successful sports nutrition diet. This requires more than simply eating enough to offset what you are burning through exercise. You have to make sure those calories are coming from the right food sources and in sufficient quantities to stay healthy and fuel and recover well from your workouts.
Generally speaking, try to create balanced meals and snacks (i.e. include protein, fat, and fiber, not just carbs) that feature a variety of nutrient dense foods (e.g. colorful fruits/vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, different protein sources) to optimize health and performance and keep you satisfied. What you eat immediately before workouts will skew more towards carbs and may minimize fiber, based on your individual tolerance. Let’s focus on breakfast, which is an important meal regardless of whether you eat it post-workout or plan to exercise later in the day.
Here are some healthy, balanced examples (portion sizes depend on individual needs):
• Whole wheat toast with mashed avocado and eggs any style
• Veg omelet with 2-3 whole eggs, veg of choice, cheese or avocado + sweet potato
• “Breakfast salad” – mixed greens with veggies, a good carb source (e.g. quinoa, sweet potato, side of toast, fruit, etc.) and your choice of protein on top (e.g. eggs, smoked salmon, tofu, chickpeas, etc.)
• Rolled oats cooked with milk/non-dairy milk, cinnamon, fruit (e.g. banana, berries), and nuts/seeds/nut butter (e.g. flax/hemp/chia seeds, almonds, pecans, peanut butter). Try adding some egg whites to the oats/milk mixture before cooking for an extra protein boost. You can cook with fruit/nuts/seeds or add later.
Including protein and carbs is particularly important after a hard workout, to restock your energy stores and help your muscles recover. If you plan to exercise later, allow two or more hours to digest. Lastly, don’t forget to hydrate!
Happy training and keep an eye out for my weekly nutrition tips! If you have any questions, you can get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to know what I eat? Check out my Instagram feed and Facebook page, @eatforendurance, for ideas and inspiration!