We all know that eating junk food is going to hinder your ability in the gym, but did you also know that the time that you consume certain foods can have almost as big an impact on your performance as the kind of foods you are putting into your body?
Timing is everything
The time that it takes to break down and fully digest food can make a huge difference to the quality of your workout.
The golden rule is that you should aim to eat a meal 2-4 hours before you start working out, but you can have snacks up to an hour before working out. This can cause problems for people who like to exercise after work, as they probably haven't eaten since lunch time which could have been 6 hours ago. Nobody wants to be exercising on an empty stomach, but you don’t want to feel full and bloated either.
Some people like to workout on an empty stomach in the morning but it’s never a good idea to attempt to exercise when you are famished, so grab a light snack that’s high in protein. To avoid bloating, you want to stay away from processed carbohydrates such as bread. Instead eat something like an avocado with cheese, hummus with carrots and celery or peanut butter and banana to tide you over until after your workout.
However, if you are planning an intense weight training session, you need to ensure that you have sufficient energy to push you through. Replenish your body with a full meal and postpone the gym for a few hours until it is completely digested. You can find a range of healthy high-protein meals online, such as this delicious recipe for Thai green curry.
Be energy efficient
The food that we consume can also trigger a variety of different hormones in our bodies, which can affect our energy levels.
Struggling to fall asleep at night? Try and eat some cereal and milk before bed. Carbohydrates make the amino acid called tryptophan more available to the brain, which can induce feelings of sleepiness. This also explains why we experience a post-lunch dip in the afternoon after consuming a lunch full of carbs. If you want to stay more alert, save your carbs until the evening and choose a high-protein lunch like a chicken salad instead.
We all need a diet that is rich in protein to provide our muscles with enough strength for exercising. While red meat is extremely high in protein it also takes the body a lot longer to digest it properly, so you won’t feel the benefits of it for a few hours.
Therefore, if you work out in the morning, then aim to eat red meat with your evening meal, and if you exercise after work try to eat a portion of red meat in the morning to ensure that you receive the maximum benefits of it. Alternatively, choose white meat such as chicken or fish for a source of protein.
This is a guest post by DW Fitness Blog who run fitness clubs around the UK.