Our bodies are designed to move. We were never meant to sit still all day, and when we get ourselves moving, we feel better in every way. Our circulation and oxygen intake both improve, it revs up our metabolism, we feel happier and more mentally clear and we get stronger, fitter, and more comfortable in our bodies and clothes.
But the tricky thing is, exercise can also make us feel, well, awful — especially when we exercise without the right fuel. Maybe you went into a workout on an empty stomach. Maybe you hit the gym on a belly full of muffins and coffee. Maybe you had a bad week of eating and are trying to counteract it with a workout. In all these cases, your body doesn’t have the nutrition it needs to function well, let alone step up for exercise.
After these “unfueled” workouts, you’re likely to end up exhausted, discouraged, sore, and maybe even hurt. It’s like you were trying to drive your car on diesel fuel. It just doesn’t work! Your car sputters and stalls out, no matter how hard you slam the gas pedal with your foot. And then it costs an arm and a leg to get the darn engine fixed.
In other words, what you put in determines how you work out. Below are my four top suggestions for eating to fuel your fitness, so that you can get the most out of your exercise!
1. Eat healthy fats. (A LOT of them!)
I really can’t say it enough: healthy fats are required for a healthy life, from weight loss to workouts! Healthy fats lubricate and protect your joints and organs. They help your body absorb nutrients, which keep you nourished for exercise. A body fueled up with healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, and real butter) is far more prepared to handle and recover from the stress of exercise — and to be able to use that exercise to get more fit. That’s why I suggest having a couple tablespoons of healthy fat every time you eat — avocado, nuts, seeds, butter, your pick!
2. Eat before you work out.
Be attentive to your body when eating before exercise, so you have the right fuel to work out and feel great throughout the process. Some people can eat seconds before they start moving, while you might need some time to digest and let your stomach settle first. It can help to try some different things and experiment a handful of times to learn what works for you.
You also want to make sure to eat enough for the amount of exercise you’re about to do. If I’m going out for a short run in the morning, I might have half a banana and a spoonful of almond butter, or half of a snack bar (I like Rx Bars) before heading out. If it’s a bigger workout, I’ll have a full meal with all three PFC macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs). A couple eggs and half a sweet potato sauteed in butter? Perfect.
Looking for more ideas for workout fuel? Check out my Ultimate Real Food Recipe Book! With the best (and most satisfying!) balanced recipes you’ll boost your metabolism and shed pounds — while giving yourself the energy to enjoy exercise AND make it count!
3. Wait 30 minutes to eat after your workout.
It’s not the best idea to eat immediately after exercising — especially if it was on the intense side. A half-hour window gets your body into a more relaxed state so you can actually digest your post-workout food, and make the most of it.
After that half-hour time frame, I recommend re-fueling with a full, balanced meal consisting of protein to aid in muscle recovery, healthy fat to support your joints and carbohydrates to replenish the ones you burned for energy and carbs to replenish your glycogen stores that you burned. This meal doesn’t need to be anything special; it just needs to have all three: PFC. You could try eggs and spinach cooked in butter, a chicken breast served over a big salad with olives and feta cheese, or a filet of fish broiled in butter with cooked vegetables.
4. Take supportive supplements.
While there are a few supplements I recommend for workouts, Fish Oil Redefined is one of the best. (Read about the others here!) Everyone should be taking fish oil on a regular basis for a variety of reasons, such as heart and brain health. And it has extra special importance for you and your workouts!
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can speed up the healing process after your workout (your muscles break down and need to heal to rebuild) by reducing inflammation caused by exercise-induced stress. They can also help lubricate joints. Taking one of these soft gels at every meal is a great way to promote fast recovery, and taking a couple extra immediately after a workout will reduce soreness, too.
Now, I want to take a moment to point out that while fueling workouts in important, how much you exercise also matters. Exercise that’s too much or too hard on us stresses our bodies out, bumps up our inflammation, and can actually make us hold onto weight (that’s right: too much exercise can cause weight gain!). Read here how to moderate exercise to support your body!
Whether you’re aiming to walk around the park or bench press your personal best, exercise can be a blessing, as long as we fuel up our bodies to make the experience as positive as it can be!
Now, while fueling your fitness properly is important, exercise and food are only two parts in a multi-part equation. In order to lose weight and keep it off — for good — you’ll want to make sure you’re addressing every area! I teach you how in my free training. Check it out here!