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It’s National Nutrition Month: Go Further with Food!

By Monique Richard MS, RDN, LDN

It’s National Nutrition Month:  Go Further with Food!March is National Nutrition Month and the theme for 2018 is “Go Further with Food.” Food is a part of life. Each and every meal, every day matters. The food that composes those meals affects our body’s ability to do what it needs to do. To help you thrive, feel powerful and equipped to face whatever comes your way, food, if in the appropriate amounts, type and proportions, can take you further in: workouts or sports competitions, in cognitive tests, in weight and health management goals, in feeling energized and ready to conquer your dreams, and in daily life. Let’s explore how to Go further with food….

In your workouts
Properly fueling your body for a workout, both before and after, can greatly improve your workout experience and outcomes. Having a proper pre-workout meal (when necessary) or snack may give you that boost of energy you need to meet your goals that day versus working out on an empty stomach. A nutrient dense post-workout meal or snack will give your body the proper recovery it needs and help to give you those results you have been striving for. Be cautious, if you have not worked out for longer than an hour and a half, a snack may not always be necessary post-workout, or at least in the caloric ranges you have been currently taking in.

So what are considered good pre- and post- workout packages that pack a nutritional punch?? Be cautious about the marketing hype of health food stores, supplement shops or pre-packaged programs and products. Using whole food sources to fuel your workout are not only less expensive but provide your body with higher quality nutrients as well sans the fillers, by-products and unnecessary additives. Back away from the whey powder, the muscle milks and the fat-burn oxidizers.

Post-Workout Fueling Tips:
Aim for your recovery meal to be 20-60 minutes after a workout with:

– Fluids. Just like before your workout, fluids are just as important after as well! The body needs to replenish any fluids lost during the workout. Unlike before the workout, you may also need to replenish your electrolytes if working out more than 60 minutes or in intense temperatures.
. Watch out for sports drinks, even though they do have electrolytes, they are also full of a lot of added sugar. It could even be enough to ruin the calories you just blasted and impede the progress you’ve gained by working out.
. Go the natural electrolyte route instead by blending your water with 100% juice such as orange juice, which provides fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates.

– Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main fuel for your muscles — especially when you exercise.
. Your muscles can store carbohydrates and protein as energy and help in recovery. Therefore, the window of 20-45 minutes to refuel post-workout is pretty important.

– Protein. Protein works to help repair and recover the tiny muscle tears that happen when exercising using the body’s own weight or free weights. Aim for around 15 to 20 grams of protein post workout.
. It’s important to realize that these are general guidelines. Some people can tolerate certain protein sources better than others. Depending on the workout their needs will also be different. There are plenty of protein-rich options, but it’s important to find what works for you and understand that too much of anything—protein, carbohydrates, or even working out period—can be harmful and dangerous to the body.

At the end of the day, learning what works for you and your goals with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or sports dietitian is going to be important for the end game result. Know that the food you put in your body is as important as you what you do with your body. The better the fuel, the farther your fitness and health journey can go!

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