Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tiny nutrition tricks for big workout gains
A few weeks back, I blogged about tiny nutrition tricks for big weight loss (check it out here). But what if you don't want to lose weight? What if you are just looking to improve your workouts to see better results overall? Here are few more "tiny tricks", but this time for big workout gains....
1. Stay hydrated
Hydration is the number one nutrition-related reason for poor performance. Being hydrated means the entire day, not just right before and during the workout. During the day, drink to stay ahead of thirst (thirst = already a 1% dehydration; performance deficits occur at 2%). Also check your hydration status by assessing pee color (lemonade color is best). Not sure you hydrate enough during workouts? Weigh yourself before and after a workout. If your weight decreases, you didn't drink enough; an increase indicates too much fluid intake; a nearly same number means you hydrated well.
2. Eat to your workout type
Not all types of athletes are the same, so nutrition needs are also not the same.
If you are more of a distance athlete (such as runner or cycler), you need more carbohydrate in your diet. Strive for approximately 1/3 of your plate at each meal to consist of carbohydrate foods (i.e. grains, fruits). If you are mainly an anaerobic athlete (such as a wrestler or football player), you need slightly less carbohydrate in your diet. Strive for approximately 1/4 of your plate at each meal to consist of carbohydrate foods. Of course, this is just a general guideline. Only a sports dietitian can give you detailed recommendations with respect to your team position (i.e. goalie vs. forward), the time of year (i.e. post-season, in-season, etc.) and your goals (i.e. weight loss or muscle gain).
3. Get the timing right
Don't go into a workout hungry or having not eaten in the past 2-3 hours. There is little immediate energy for your muscles, forcing the body to actually break down muscle for energy. Also, if you plan to do another workout within 8 hours, eat in the first 30-60 minutes after a workout. This will jump-start your body toward recovery to prepare the next workout.
4. Strive for variety
Once you know what to eat, try to add variety to your meals and snacks. Each week, rotate the foods that go into your grocery cart from each food group. Always eat white potatoes? How about rice, sweet potatoes, or whole wheat pasta? Typically snack on apples and bananas? Try berries or mango. Variety in your intake means you are more likely to meet your vitamin and mineral needs.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/professorbop/3726004333/sizes/m/in/photostream/