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Natural Awakenings Boston

Proper Eating Fuels and Enhances Workouts

Oct 31, 2011 03:34PM ● By Jay Krawczyk

No matter how much time people spend working out, their efforts will be counterproductive without proper eating habits. The body requires fuel not only to function, but also to build and maintain muscle. The following practices will support most workout goals and boost overall energy.

Eat a good breakfast to jump-start metabolism. The body’s metabolism is at its fastest in the morning, so it stands to reason that the food consumed for breakfast will be used pretty quickly. It’s therefore best to consume most carbohydrates in the morning and shift to more protein-based foods later in the day. Good breakfast choices include oatmeal, Cream of Wheat cereal, plain yogurt, fruit, granola, eggs and egg whites and natural, whole-grain cereals. Fats and essential minerals can be consumed during other meals and snacks throughout the day. In general, it’s a good idea to eat small meals spaced apart every few hours.

Eat 30 to 60 minutes before working out. This fuels the body and prevents a drop in blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, which triggers the body to crave sugar and often leads to overeating. Half of a whole-wheat bagel with natural peanut butter is a nice source of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Fruits, such as bananas or pineapple chunks, offer a quick energy boost and supply other important minerals, but, depending on the exercise, fruits alone may not be enough. Oatmeal, lentils and almonds and other nuts also can be eaten before a workout. Portion size will vary depending on the individual, but avoiding heavy meals is the general rule. 

Eat after exercising to rebuild and replenish. The body always will be working hard to break down the food it receives, but it has an optimum “workout window” for using nutrients. Eating some form of protein 30 to 60 minutes after a workout helps to rebuild the damaged muscles and ensure that your efforts are not wasted. Chicken, fish and lean cuts of red meat are excellent sources of protein. Because your body relies on carbohydrates or glycogen stores for energy, it’s equally important to replenish lost reserves after workouts. Choose complex carbohydrates found in such foods as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal or whole-wheat breads. If time is an issue, whey protein and waxy maize powders are great substitutes.

Finally, stay hydrated all day by drinking plenty of filtered water.

Jay Krawczyk is a master trainer at Vitality Personal Fitness, located at 118 Needham St. in Newton. For more information, call 508-441-8333 or visit