Several years ago before I left the Army, I had a conversation with the First Sergeant. He was telling me something that I’d been hearing for years. He Said, “Dammit Abache, enjoy being young and having that quick metabolism because it won’t last forever. I can’t eat a cookie without seeing it the next day and I’m running three miles a day. This is some bullshit!”
He was in his early 40’s and he started to see that even exercise wasn’t enough to maintain that youthful lean look. He was telling me that his eating habits needed to change and it really made me evaluate my own eating habits. I put together a simple “how-to-eat-right” guide to simplify what we should be consuming daily.
Lean proteins provide the amino acids your muscles need to grow, repair, and recover. Sources: skinless poultry, fish, lean beef, and pork; low-fat milk and yogurt; legumes (beans), eggs, and tofu. Nuts and seeds are
also a good protein (and healthy fat) source.
Healthy Fats — Unsaturated fats, especially omega fatty acids, can be healthy
when eaten in small amounts. Sources: olives, salmon, walnuts, almonds,
flax, and avocados.
Your plate should be proportioned…EVERY MEAL, EVERY DAY! Portion sizes and snacks will vary based on your energy needs and training goals.
Fueling with the right amount of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Healthy Fats promotes energy, endurance, stamina, and muscle growth. Benefits of proper fueling include:
Maintaining a healthy weight.
Decreased post-exercise muscle soreness.
Stronger and healthier muscles.
Plan your meals like you plan your workouts! A plan for eating and hydrating before, during, and after physical training is essential.
Pre-Workout: Don’t start your workout on an empty tank!
Eat a snack or small meal 2-4 hours before exercise.
Drink 2-3 cups of water approximately 2-3 hours prior to exercise.
Early morning workouts can be fueled with 8-16 ounces of sports beverage, piece of fruit, toast, or other light snack.
During: Finish the workout as hard as you started!
Most people don’t need anything other than water during exercise lasting less than 1 hour.
For sessions lasting 60-90 minutes or more:
Starting at the 20-minute mark, consume 10-20 grams of carbohydrate (fruit, sports drink, commercial sports bar or granola bar, gel shot, etc.) every 20 minutes.
Use a sports drink (containing sodium and carbohydrate) as your fuel and fluid.
Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks and should never be used for hydration.
Post-Workout: Don’t waste your workout!
Timing is crucial for optimum growth and recovery from your workout.
Refuel and rehydrate within 30-60 minutes after strenuous activity.
Eat a mixed fuel of carbohydrate and protein.
Great post-activity muscle recovery and energy boosters include: low-fat chocolate milk, 100% fruit juice (8 oz), whole-grain bread with peanut butter and banana, low-fat yogurt plus fruit, or a commercial protein-containing sports bar.
You can’t “out-exercise” a poor diet. Follow this guidance…EVERY MEAL, EVERY DAY!
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with carbohydrates, natural antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that enhance recovery and support your immune system. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for your muscles (especially after high-intensity activities) and the only fuel source for your brain (helps you focus). Whole-grain sources have more fiber and vitamins essential for energy metabolism. Sources: whole-grain breads, cereal and pastas, rice, oatmeal, legumes (beans), and fruit.