Train on an empty tummy to lose weight. Eat something before a workout so that you have the energy. Have a protein shake before gym to buff up… Wow, the question of when you should eat on training days is a confusing one!
No matter what your fitness goals, food will always be a big – no, scratch that, massive – part of the equation. But it’s no longer just about what to eat. With new diet plans and training regimes popping up faster than you can do a burpee, we’re faced with an even more confusing dilemma: When should you eat, before or after a workout? And how heavy of a meal can it be? And what should it consist of? Boy oh boy, it’s a whirlwind of confusion and contradictions. That’s why we’ve called on the experts to help put the myths to rest.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘food is fuel’, but it’s more than just a fun expression. ‘A car can have the most expensive tyres and the best driver in the world, but it will go nowhere without fuel. The same is true for your body: ‘Eating a well-balanced diet is important to obtain calories [energy] and nutrients that you need to fuel your activities, including exercise,’ Claudine Ryan says, a registered dietitian in Cape Town.
‘While in the past, the focus was on calories in [food] versus calories out [exercise] – the balance determined whether you gained, maintained or lost weight – calories are not created equal,’ says ADSA spokesperson and dietitian, Retha Booyens.
‘Nutrition is not only the calories you consume to fuel a workout – the nutrients they contain are also involved in various metabolic pathways. Over the past few years, the sports-nutrition field exploded. The link between nutrition and sport is undeniable. It is involved in improved performance and recovery, and reduction in injuries.’
Eat this if..
YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT
• Apple wedges and sugar-free peanut butter
• A piece of fruit
• Crackers or rice cakes with cheese
• Double-cream yoghurt and fruit
• Trail mix
YOU WANT TO BUILD MUSCLE
• Smoothies (watch out for added sugars!)
• Protein shake (specifically whey and branched-chain amino acids)
• Apple wedges and peanut butter
• High-energy fruits such as bananas, grapes and dates
• Double-cream yoghurt and dried fruit
• Granola bars
• Trail mix
YOU NEED A PRE-WORKOUT SNACK
• Low-GI snacks that supply 15–30 g of carbohydrates (like low-GI bread, oats, wholewheat crackers, banana and/or yoghurt)
YOU NEED A POST-WORKOUT SNACK
• A carb-protein combo, such as chicken and grilled butternut, rice cakes with cheese, a glass of milk, or a banana and cottage cheese
• When whole foods aren’t practical, try a whey protein supplement that contains some carbohydrates too.
For the full article, get your October issue of Fit Life.