Choosing Comparing And Deciding Which AppleWhether you are a weekend warrior or a highly skilled athlete, the food you choose to eat plays an important part in your athletic performance. Food is fuel for your body. Just as gasoline provides the energy needed to run your car, food provides the energy needed for your body to function properly.

Quality Makes a Difference.  Few of us would choose to put low-grade gasoline in our cars. You don’t want to risk damage to your car or a break down, especially on a long journey. So make sure you are giving your body what it needs to complete your workout and finish strong.

Contrary to what you see advertised on television, sports drinks, protein bars and Wheaties will not make you run faster or jump higher. What your body really needs is nutrient-dense whole foods. Not chemical and sugar-laden processed foods. Nutrient dense foods will help you maximize muscle growth and replace the glycogen stores used up during your workout. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose, which is the main source of fuel for your cells.

Regardless of your fitness goals, you need to eat before and after your workouts.

Don’t Drive On Empty. Be sure to eat one to two hours before exercising.

  •  Choose complex carbohydrates. Not the starchy flour-based products. Best choices are fruits, vegetables and good whole grains, such as quinoa, brown-rice, or whole-grain sprouted bread.
  • Avoid saturated fats and a lot of protein. These types of foods take longer to digest and may lead to an upset stomach during a workout.
  • Hydrate with water. Avoid sugary sports drinks and flavored water.
  • If it’s not possible to fit in a meal prior to your workout, grab a piece of fruit. Bananas are a good choice.

Make a Pit Stop. Stay hydrated with frequent sips of water.  If you are going to be active for longer than an hour, such as hiking or a long bike ride, be sure to take a snack with you. Here are some good options:

  • Raisins
  • Bananas and apples
  • Nuts
  • Seeds, such as chia, sunflower, or pumpkin

Refill Your Tank. It’s best to take in a combination of carbohydrates and protein after your workout. As stated before, carbohydrates will help replenish your glycogen stores, which were used up during the workout. Protein is not burned as a fuel source during exercise, but it is essential for repairing muscle tissue and building new muscle. Some suggestions:

  • Protein shake. Research has shown that individuals consuming a high-quality protein shake immediately after strength training build more lean muscle tissue than those who do not.
  • Grilled chicken with vegetables
  • Veggie omelet with avocado
  • Grilled salmon with wild rice

Making wise food choices before, during and after your workouts will leave you feeling energized and strong.