It is not unusual for those who work out to aspire that they would perform flawlessly, just like their favourite sports person or a fitness guru/influencer that they look up to. However, it is not as simple as it looks. But, if you wish for the same energy levels, form and agility without feeling tired or breathless, there are two tools you require - the right technique and nutrition!
To level up your workout sessions without pain, injuries and muscle loss, you should fuel it right. Feeding the right nutrients to your body at the right time and in the right form, not just enhances your performance but also improves your stamina.
Have you ever experienced fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps or soreness during or after a workout? These are basic indicators of lack of energy due to dehydration, low iron, calcium, vitamin D and protein stores in the body. Food is our basic source of energy and if you ignore the nutrition part, your performance will drop down drastically, delaying the results you desire.
How Does This Work?
In case of low Vitamin D levels, your body fails to absorb calcium, making your bones weak and brittle, leading to further pain and crackling sounds. You need it for energy and to make your muscles work efficiently.
On the other hand, low iron stores mean that your body is having trouble carrying oxygen to your cells, failing to produce energy. This can cause breathlessness, delayed absorption of nutrients and lethargy.
Even low sodium intake due to excessive sweating during workouts can disturb the electrolyte balance, leading to cramps.
Anyone who is regularly exercising needs more protein compared to an inactive person. The reason being the excessive breakdown of muscles during a workout. It is a key nutrient that helps you to repair the wear and tear of your body. Whether you are looking to gain muscle mass or lose fat, proteins play a vital role. Mixing proteins with carbohydrates helps your body absorb protein and turn it into more muscle mass, reducing body fat easily.
How Much & How to Fuel?
Your workout sessions and intensity determine the order of fuel and the nutrition requirements. This can vary from person to person based on the intensity of workout one does. A higher workout intensity will expend more energy. Empower your workouts by having the right pre and post workout meal.
To manage your performance and recovery pre workout meals play a vital role. Carbohydrates, as the first source of energy, maximize the ability to perform short and high intensity workouts with ease. Imagine working out on an empty stomach in the morning. It’s like running a car without petrol. How long can you sustain the workout?
Adding some simple easily digestible carbohydrates, in combination with proteins, fills up the energy stores to rev up your endurance. Ideally, have it 15-30 minutes before a workout. For instance, fruits and seeds or a dates and fruits smoothie, nuts and seeds with a fruit or sweet potato with seeds or a granola bar.
To sustain a longer workout, one needs ample energy for which carb loading is must, at least 3-4 hours before a workout. You can have a combination of carbs with some protein, for a slow and steady release of energy throughout the workout. This meal can include peanut butter and oatmeal, boiled eggs with seeds, fruit with seeds or avocado, nuts and fruits with yogurt, chia seeds blended with fruits in the form of a smoothie and you can club it with yogurt or sattu water.
For post workout meals, one should first sip water to avoid dehydration. Have a meal combining carbs and quality proteins to regain the energy needed by the body to begin its repair work. Having coconut water with a bowl of poha or grabbing a bowl of sprouted salad or idli with sambar and buttermilk/sattu drink are enough to supply your body with a punch of protein and restore the lost nutrients, maintaining healthy weight.
Due to heavy sweating during a workout, you can lose a lot of body fluids. Proper hydration before, during and after a workout can regulate it back to normal. Have a glass of coconut water, chia seeds water, lemon water or sattu water to stay hydrated and keep up the electrolyte balance and energy levels.
I hope this article helps you supplement your workout with proper nutrition and helps you achieve timely results. Remember, workouts are productive if you do it within limits with proper nutritional care. Overtraining can be injurious to your health. Flourish your workout sessions with the right food, proper rest and sleep.
(The author, a lifestyle Expert Coach of GOQii, has varied experience in the field of dietetics and clinical nutrition, having worked with multiple organizations across India. Armed with a Bachelor degree in Home Science and a diploma in Food and Nutrition, her specialties are in the areas of Clinical Nutrition, Diabetes Management, Weight Management. She is self-motivated and loves challenges. She has worked with different cultures, in a result-oriented environment. Fitness to her means ‘To rejuvenate yourself. She helps to design and structure achievable goals with respect to exercise, nutrition and lifestyle choice.)