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Food for Fuel


Are you going to the gym? If you’re heading for an afternoon run or an intense workout, choosing the right nutrients will help fuel your exercise regimen.  A proper snack or meal is needed before and during exercise to power your workout, while nutrients after exercise will help with muscle recovery.

Here are some tips on managing a healthy nutrition plan when working out.

Before Exercise: 

Eating before exercise improves your activity performance.

Choose a snack or meal rich in carbohydrates with a small amount of protein to fuel your muscles 3-4 hours before exercise. A meal low in fat and fiber is best for easy digestion.

Eat this:

-         Peanut butter + honey + toast

-         Low fat Labneh or white cheese + Arabic bread + orange juice

-         1 cup low fat yogurt + mixed fruits + granola

-         Turkey and cheese sandwich + banana

-         1 boiled egg + toast + fruit

Right before your workout (30-60 min pre-exercise), boost your energy with one piece of fruit or a 100 calorie granola bar!

During Exercise:

If your workout lasts for more than an hour, carbohydrates during exercise are important to maintain sugar levels and improve performance. Fluids are needed to replace sweat loss and avoid dehydration. 

 Eat this:

-         1 banana

-          ½ toast with jam or honey

-         Small granola bar

-         Sports drinks with carbohydrate and electrolytes*

-          Fluid: water or sports drinks  

During long exercises the right mixture of fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes is needed. However, too much carbohydrates and too little fluid can lead to cramping and discomfort.

*Remember: Sports drinks are high in sugar, which can lead to stomach discomfort and affect weight loss, so moderation is key!

After Exercise:

Including carbohydrates after exercise is important to replace your glycogen stores that were used to fuel your workout. Protein provides the needed amino acids for muscle recovery. Replace any fluid and electrolyte losses by drinking enough water. Eat a snack or meal 15-60 minutes after your workout to begin nutrition recovery.

Eat this:

-         Fruit and yogurt smoothie

-         Sports drink containing carbohydrate and electrolytes + sports bar

-         Low fat chocolate milk + banana + peanut butter + crackers

-         Low fat labneh sandwich + fruit

-         3-4 slices of low fat white cheese + toast + fruit

If it’s close to meal time (breakfast, lunch or dinner), skip the post workout snack and have an adequate balanced meal such as:

-         Whole wheat bread with turkey and cheese + bowl of mixed salad

-         Grilled chicken + brown rice + avocado

-        Lean steak grilled or stir-fried + grilled vegetables + baked potato

-         2 boiled eggs + whole wheat bread + bowl of mixed salad 

-     Tuna salad (1 can tuna in water) + whole wheat toast 

Author: Massar Dabbous

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