Fuel Your Body the Right Way by guest expert Gina Monk RD

Sports nutrition is always a popular topic I am asked to write about and the information out there is endless! Personal trainers and fitness experts always have a say but as much as I do respect their profession, sports dietitians and nutritionists are the ones to trust when it comes to food. Enter my next guest expert, Gina! She will introduce us to her ideal pre and post workout snack and meal ideas to fuel your body so over to you Gina…Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 2.35.43 PM

I’ve noticed as a Dietitian and as the “resident nutrition expert” at the running store where I work, this topic is a BIG question mark for so many athletes, from beginner to elite! Rather than give exact recipes, for which you may or may not have the ingredients, I’ll just provide some tips for pre- and post-workout. That way you have more flexibility to work with your own favourite foods!

Pre-Workout (aka Fuelling):

During exercise, your blood gets pulled away from your guts, so that oxygen can be rerouted where it’s needed most (muscles). Because of this, any food you eat before a workout should be digested quickly and absorbed easily. Sugar and water are great at this. Everything else, not so much.

Here is what to look for pre-workout: 

  1. Low in fibre

You want to make sure you’re well-fuelled, without being bogged down by belly-filling fibre. Save the whole grain cereal, muesli and oatmeal for another time, or eat them at least 2 hours before your workout. Low-fibre carbs for immediately (30-60 mins) before a workout include white bread, saltines, a bit of fruit, or 1 serving (check the box) of plain cereal, such as Chex or Corn Flakes.

  1. Low in fat

Fat is great for you! It takes hours to digest, leaving you satiated for a long time. However, watch out for how much nuts, avocado, meat, fish, full-fat dairy you would consume before exercise. They’re all part of a balanced diet, but this is not the time to include them. If you really want to add fat to your pre-workout snack, try a little PB, 1-2% milk, or a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil.

  1. Low in protein

Protein is necessary for muscle repair and growth. Like fat, it takes a couple of hours to digest. If consumed pre-workout, the amino acids that result from its digestion will be used for energy, not repairing and building muscles. Wait until your workout is over and your muscles are resting (this is when repair and growth happens).

If you want a bit of protein before a workout, keep it to a minimum (e.g. 1 Tbsp PB, one egg). Save the shakes, egg whites, or grilled chicken for post-workout, when it’ll be put to good use!

A great example to wrap it all up: 1 slice white toast with 1 Tbsp PB and 1/2 of a banana. Also, try to eat 1-2 hours before a workout.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 2.37.22 PMPost-Workout (aka Recovery)

It takes time for your body to adjust to not exercising (e.g. breathing and heart rate). This also includes your guts! Unfortunately, you don’t start digesting food again the minute you stop moving. Give it a few minutes, and use this time to stretch or prepare your recovery meal/snack. Try to include 20-30 grams of easily-digested protein (eggs, dairy) and simple carbohydrates. You can add a little fat too, but I would recommend avoiding the following:

  1. Fibre
  2. Caffeine/hot beverages
  3. Spicy foods

All of the above stimulate the intestines, and without adequate blood circulation, they may get very upset! So, oatmeal with Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 2.39.35 PMa large coffee might not be the best choice post-workout.

Recovery meal example: Omelette or scrambled eggs using 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites (add whatever veggies you want), plus ¾ cup yoghurt (or 30 grams of cheese in the omelette!), with a serving of fruit on the side. Yum! 

Fat, fibre, protein, complex and simple carbohydrates all make up a balanced diet, but make sure you know how each one affects your workout, and affects you after your workout. Adjust accordingly! 
PortraitAbout the Author: Gina is a Registered Dietitian from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She earned a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Human Nutrition and earned her Graduate Diploma in RD Credentialing. Gina is currently the “resident nutrition expert” at a speciality running store in Halifax, also providing nutrition seminars to their run clinics 1-3 times per month. When not at the store, Gina ‘s working on nutrition eBooks, running, biking, yoga-ing, swimming, cooking and enjoying the summer patio season with friends and family! She also consults private clients, most of whom are interested in sports nutrition, food allergy management, or weight management. Gina hopes to pass on her stress-free, no-guilt, love-all-food attitude toward her clients and future readers, and help them discover joy in the kitchen, and an appreciation for ALL food (veggies and cake alike). Look out for her eBook ” Digestible Nutrition” coming out very soon! Head to www.ginamonk.com 

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