Here’s how much and when you should eat when working out

We have all heard the recommendation to be more physically active because it prevents obesity, ensures well-being, supports mental health and is an important factor in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. But how can healthy menu support our active lifestyle so that we have enough energy, we can deal with other tasks after a workout, and we reduce the risk of potential injuries and muscle pain?

Eat enough carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our body, almost the only food for our brain, and they must make up 50-60% of all daily energy. Proper carbohydrate intake provides us with enough energy for the entire day. The general recommendation is that we need to get our daily carbohydrate amount from everyday food, and 75-80% of carbs should be carbohydrates containing starch and fiber (such as whole grains, whole grain products and carbohydrate-rich vegetables). Such carbs are absorbed more slowly. This means that the energy is released gradually and there is enough of energy for longer period of time. The rule to remember is that the source of carbohydrate should be consumed every 3-4 hours. A slow-absorbing carbohydrate source must be preferred because, as has already been said, it gives us energy for a longer period of time.

There are situations in sport where the consumption of fast-absorbing carbohydrates is also justified, because during the intense training, our energy resources are used up, and these need to be replenished quickly. For example, fruits or dried fruits, raw bars, energy bars for athletes, sports gels and special energy drinks can be used as a fast carbohydrate source. It is important to remember that exercising for more than 1- 1.5 hours depletes the body’s stored carbohydrates and creates a lack of energy, which can affect training results and cause fatigue. Because extra energy is needed quickly, some fast carbohydrate sources can be consumed during such a workout.

However, sugary foods and refined flour products could be in the menu of an active person as less as possible, as they provide energy only for a short time and then fatigue and sugar craving may increase, which in turn can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Consume enough protein, but don’t overdo it

Contrary to popular belief, an athletes or people who are doing sports do not need to consume more protein than carbohydrates. Proteins are a building block of the muscles, joints and bones in our body and their daily consumption must be in the range of 10-20%. Researches have not confirmed the fact that over-consumption of protein contributes to the muscle growth and recovery more effectively. The main sources of protein from food are dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, but also legumes. The source of protein must be present in every main meal, especially after a workout. The use of protein powders may be necessary if the daily intake of protein is not full. Excessive protein burdens the body and kidneys. The more protein you eat, the harder your kidneys have to work.

Pre-workout diet

It is not recommended to eat just before a workout but going on an empty stomach is also a bad idea. It is optimal to consume a slow-absorbing carbohydrates source in combination with a source of protein, for example 1.5-2 hours before a workout. If it is not possible to eat such a meal and it is already many hours since the last meal, you can eat some raw bars or fruit / dried fruit just before your workout. In the Be More e- shop you can find raw bars with different flavors, of which Be Fit peanut butter-protein raw bar contains not only carbohydrates but also pea and hemp protein powder. Raw collagen bars are also available in the Be More e-shop. Collagen is the most common protein in our body.

Consumption of carbs during the training

If the duration of the training is up to 1.5 hours and it is not a very intensive training, then it is not necessary to consume additional energy during the workout. Rather, it is important to remember to consume enough water, as dehydration can have a harmful effect on our well-being and athletic performance.

If the training is very intense and/or lasts more than 1.5 hours, then as mentioned before, it is recommended to consume fast-absorbing carbohydrates, sports drink or energy gel/supplement during the work-out.

Post-workout recovery

If there is at least 8 hours until the next workout, the post-workout meal may be consumed within 2 hours. Any physical activity causes micro-injuries to our muscles and joints, and by choosing the right food, we help them recover from these injuries. A protein-rich food combined with carbs is best suited for the recovery process. If the workout was high intensity, it is recommended to eat 1-1.2g of carbohydrates and an additional 0.25g of protein per kg of body weight. For a person weighing 70 kg, it makes 70-84 g of carbohydrates and 17.5 g of protein. It helps restore carbohydrate stores and supports muscle recovery. After a low to medium intensity workout, the amount of carbohydrates and protein may be lower.

How else can you support your body?

If, in addition to the fast pace of life, we also want to be physically active and not tired, then we must make sure that our menu is as healthy as possible, rich in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals. Be More wants to support people with an active lifestyle and for that we have a new delicious tropical taste protein powder Be Sporty available in the e-shop, which contains 67g of plant-based protein per 100g. If there is no time to eat after training, it is very easy to add about 1-3 tablespoons of Be Sporty protein powder to the water or smoothie and support the recovery and growth of muscle mass.

In case of more intense training, it is recommended to consume some carbohydrate sources as well. It is important to remember that consuming enough fluids is just as important as correct eating. The general recommendation is to drink about 1.5-2 litres of clean water every day (coffee and tea are not included). During exercise days, the need for fluid intake may be even bigger. Sometimes it is also useful to drink mineral water. This is especially needed if you need to compensate for water loss during or after your workout which lasted for more than an hour.

Let´s make wise and healthy choices in our menu and our body will thank us for it, providing enough energy and well-being for each day!

Nutritionist Diana Zintšenko

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