Eat right and you will give your muscles the right fuel to work out for longer, without risk of fatigue. Try these foods before your next exercise session.
1. Porridge with low-fat milk and fruit
If you’re a morning exerciser, start your day with a bowl of high-fibre oats and fruit. The carbohydrate in the oats is digested slowly, steadily delivering energy to your muscles in the form of glucose. Oats also contain B vitamins, which help convert carbs into energy. Adding milk will give you added protein and calcium.
If you only have 10 to 15 minutes before your workout, give yourself some fuel by snacking on a banana. Bananas are full of digestible carbohydrates as well as potassium, an essential electrolyte that aids in maintaining nerve and muscle function.
3. Wholegrain bread
A good source of carbohydrates, bread can also be topped with additional protein in the form of hard-boiled eggs or lean meat, or extra carbohydrate in the form of jam or honey.
4. Fruit smoothies
Use berries, mango, or bananas as a base. A smoothie delivers high-quality protein from milk and yoghurt, can be rapidly digested, and also contains both fast- and slow-acting carbohydrates from the fruit and milk.
A quarter cup of chickpeas will give you protein, carbohydrate and fibre. Just sprinkle with a little lemon juice for a perfect pre-workout snack.
6. Dried fruit
Only got a few minutes before your workout? Then a small serve of dried fruit will give you instant energy without weighing you down. It will also provide a number of essential minerals and vitamins.
Don’t forget your water bottle. If you’re not sufficiently hydrated before you exercise, you can’t perform at your best and your heart will have to work harder than usual. Make sure you drink before, during and after exercise.
TIP: Eat larger snacks or meals one to three hours before your workout. You may have tummy trouble if you eat immediately before, because as blood goes to your muscles during exercise it leaves less for digestion.
Electrolytes don’t need to come from a sports drink
While most exercisers can get away with drinking water after a workout, endurance athletes must work harder to replenish the electrolytes that are flushed out with sweat. Electrolytes are essential minerals including sodium, chloride, potassium and magnesium that play a vital role in helping the body retain water.
One option is to drink sports drinks that contain added electrolytes. In some circumstances these are the best choice. Another option is to eat real food. Table salt contains both sodium and chloride. An easy way to replenish is with wholegrain bread and peanut butter, both of which tend to have salt added during processing. Other natural sources include olives, seaweed, tomatoes and celery. For a hefty dose of potassium, you can’t go past a banana, while milk delivers a mix of carbs, calcium, sodium and potassium, along with high-quality protein to aid muscle recovery. And to get your magnesium, be sure to add leafy green vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and peanut butter to your daily diet.