You’ve heard the phrase before: to “work up an appetite.” As it turns out, this is more than a cliché to say you’ve done your share of hard work for the day, it is actually based in biology. The more you work out, the more energy you need–and your body only gets energy through food.
If you are working out once or more every day, then your body is going to need an extra boost in maintaining your energy levels. But even if you are working out just three to five times a week, you need to make sure that you are preparing for your workout as well as possible by making sure that you are anticipating your body’s nutritional needs with your daily food choices.
Eating for Weight Loss and Work Outs
Many people feel that working out hard means they can eat more calories than they burn and these extra calories are available to be turned into muscle mass. Protein bars and workout drinks are designed with exactly this sort of mentality in mind. That is why they are packed with protein, but also with a lot of calories and usually a lot of sugar. In reality, normal workouts rarely burn more calories than sport foods contain and rather than turning to muscle, the excess calories are more likely to turn to fat.
When you are looking to work out to tone muscle and lose weight, you want to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of eating those common pre and post-workout sport foods. Instead, you want to find foods that are going to support your weight loss goals by being naturally nutrient dense while also low in sugar and calorie content.
To maximize energy during your workouts, try shaping your diet for the following components:
- Carbohydrates. Carbs get a really bad reputation because they are so packed with calories, but calories are energy. The problem is that many people eat too many carbs without working them off properly. If you are going to be working out, then having a serving of complex carbohydrates can help you power through your workout.
- Protein. Muscles need protein, this is a fact. Without protein, you will find yourself fatigued and you are going to burn out before you reach your maximum potential. The best bet is to look for protein from lean sources, like grilled chicken or turkey.
Finding the proper balance of carbs and protein in a nutrient dense snack about an hour before your workout will give you a great burst of energy and help you get the most out of your workout. This is especially helpful if you are looking to go to the gym after work, when energy levels are naturally low.
For specific food recommendations based on the nutrient needs listed here, talk with our nutrition specialists. Making smart food choices can help you achieve the most out of your daily workouts.