Optimising your nutrition to get the best results from your workout
Let us start off by saying all bodies are good bodies – especially yours! But both exercise and nutrition are good for the mind, body and soul. So much so that a recent study found that a 15 minute run per day or walking for one hour reduces the risk of major depression.
And the saying goes, we are what we eat both physically and mentally.
A study focusing on the role of diet and nutrition on mental health and wellbeing found that eating more highly processed foods made individuals more at risk of being diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
Whether you’re looking to take care of your mental health, maintain your shape, improve your fitness or reach a new goal, nutrition will always be part of the formula. And as connoisseurs of all things delicious and nutritious we’re just the people to show you the way.
Identifying your fitness goals
Health and fitness is an all-year-round priority, but many of us think about it a little more when there’s a promise of warmer weather or there’s a holiday/staycation booked.
Regardless of what’s in the diary, you should feel confident and comfortable in your skin. You have one body, so allow yourself the freedom to enjoy it! Alongside both self-love and care, it’s important to set some fitness goals too.
A great way to identify your fitness goals is to think about when you were physically at your happiest and healthiest. Another way would be to consider whether there’s a specific achievement you’d like to work towards. This could be running a 10K or burning a certain number of calories – whatever you choose, make it your own.
Different bodies will have different goals, so we’d always advise speaking to your doctor too, to check if your goal is healthy for your body.
Once your fitness goals have been identified, make sure your workouts are supported by the right nutrition.
Training for an event
Tough mudder. Marathon. Half-Marathon. Triathlon. Granolathon (maybe one day). Every event requires training. To get the most out of that training you need the right pre-workout food.
Matt Jenkins – founder of Physical Blueprint, Sports Conditioning Coach (and lover of Lizi’s cereals, of course), has told us how you can turn food into fuel before a workout.
But just before we hear from him, we wanted to mention your Glycaemic Load (GL). This is a measurement of how quickly a food causes your blood sugar levels to rise. The higher the GL the quicker the food is digested and absorbed, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Now, back to Matt:
“From a sporting perspective, you’d generally want a small amount of high glycaemic load fuel in the immediate build up to a game/event. Immediately before a workout/event, this would include jelly babies/beans jelly, sports drinks, watermelon and Jaffa cakes. 2-plus hours before I’d be eating mash potato and white rice.
“I’d advise eating Lizi’s granola in the carb loading phase 24 – 48 hours prior to your workout to ensure the food is fully digested and glycogen levels in the muscles and liver are full. You could also eat Lizi’s granola as part of a medium-sized breakfast with low fat/0% yogurt if the game/event was later in the day.
“In general, Lizi’s is a good option to keep muscle glycogen stores topped up regularly as they provide a slow steady stream of energy without spiking blood glucose levels. So, in theory, from a glycogen standpoint, the muscles would always be ready to work out.”
We couldn’t help but flex our muscles getting into this one, and to help you efficiently flex yours, (cue Beyonce!) you need to bring the ‘beet’ in.
Beetroot contains a molecule called betaine anhydrous. The main benefits of betaine include improved body composition, increased power output and force, improved muscle endurance, and increased bench press repetition and force.
Consuming carbohydrates before your workout gives your body sufficient levels of energy to burn. Aim to eat slow-release carbs, such as rice, pasta, porridge and potatoes a minimum of 2 hours before your workout.
If you’re looking for an instant energy boost closer to your workout time, eat foods with natural sugars such as oranges and bananas – but not too many, nobody likes having a stitch.
And you can leave the foods high in fat in the cupboard before your workout. Many research studies report no performance benefits when consuming a high-fat meal in the pre-workout window compared to a high-carbohydrate meal.
Fats are important for a muscle-building diet but they shouldn’t be used heavily in pre-workout meals. Fat delays food leaving the stomach meaning your body’s uptake of nutrients could be slowed down. To prepare for an intense workout you want something that’ll digest quickly – like the carbs we mentioned earlier.
To put it simply, if you’re trying to burn more calories you need to avoid eating more food than you need before your workouts. If you don’t, you’ll be eating more calories than you’re burning off, so be sure to consider how many calories you expect to burn before eating your pre-workout meal.
Whether you’re looking to burn calories or build muscle, both require food before your workout. It’s incredibly counterproductive not to eat before your workout. How can you expect to perform at your best without energy?
How to get macros to work harder
Being more aware of your macros is a welcome trend. But what even are they? Macro is short for macronutrient, they’re three categories of nutrients that provide you with most of your energy: protein, carbs, and fats.
You’ve already got to know our fond friends carbohydrates and know not to include fats in your pre-workout meal – so that leaves protein.
Protein is the giver of amino acids and protector of stable energy levels. It also helps to grow and protect your muscles, making them a welcome addition to both pre and post-workout meals. Good sources of protein include chicken, quinoa, eggs, pulses, red meats, vegetables and fish.
Enjoy fueling your workout
May your workout be just as successful as your pre-workout meals.
While food is indisputably enjoyable and delicious, it’s functional too, so don’t forget to utilise this power. Have fun doing so too!