Your body is your vehicle, so you have to keep your engine running and fueled up when you workout. Not fueling up before you workout is like driving a car on empty – you won’t have enough energy to maximize your workout and you limit your ability to burn calories during and after. Ideally, you should fuel up about two hours before your workout by hydrating with water and eating HEALTHY carbohydrates. Oftentimes, people are confused about which carbs are good and which are bad. Generally speaking, healthy carbohydrates are low in sugars and high in fiber. Here are some great examples of HEALTHY carbohydrates:
- Vegetables – ALL vegetables contain healthy carbohydrates, you can eat your favorite vegetables and know that you’re getting vitamins, minerals and healthy carbs! Vegetables veer into bad carb territory when they’re breaded, floured and fried.
- Potatoes – Potatoes have gotten a bad rap for a long time, but whole baked potatoes do have fiber and long-chain glucose molecules (that means even though the compounds in these carbs eventually convert to sugars, they release much more slowly and steadily in your bloodstream than carbs with just sugars. The result is long-lasting energy rather than a quick high, followed by a crash). **Adding butter, sour cream, bacon, cheese…adversely affects this healthy root vegetable.
- Sweet Potatoes – are very high in fiber, antioxidants and vitamins.
- Fruit – can contain a lot of sugar, which is bad in excess, but whole, unprocessed fruit offers a lot of fiber that helps keep those sugars in check. Plus, fruit has a lot of vitamins essential to whole-body health. Fruit juice is NOT a good alternative – juicing removes the fiber – the pulp and skin – and essentially turns healthy fruit into a high-calorie, sugary drink.
- Whole Grains – like whole grain flours and rice (brown), whole grains are much better for you than the refined versions. Opt for oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat. Keep in mind though that despite claiming “whole grains” many breakfast cereals and other pre-packaged options have lots of SUGAR!! A great breakfast option is oatmeal with some berries!
- Legumes – such as lentils, beans, and peas have tons of healthy carbs and plenty of fiber. They are a great source of protein and vitamins and eating them has the bonus of lowering cholesterol!! They also keep you full, which is really useful for people seeking to lose weight.
- Nuts – are a great protein and they are packed with good carbs! Hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamias are all great examples of go-to snack foods before a workout! But, practice moderation – nuts are high in fat and calories, so make sure you limit your intake.
- Seeds – like nuts, seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, sesame and chia have a lot of great carbs as well as vitamins and healthy fats.
- Yogurt – is a great healthy snack, but when looking at carbs, some types are much better than others. Typically, low-fat and non-fat yogurts have MORE carbs than others. Greek yogurt made from whole milk has the least. There are many benefits to eating yogurt including improved gut health.
The key is to consume easily digested healthy carbs prior to your workout, so you feel strong, powerful and invigorated rather than sluggish. And don’t forget post-workout re-fuel! Lots of water, healthy carbs and add PROTEIN which will help repair and grow your muscles. Recognizing and knowing what you are putting into your body is as important as what you do with your body during your workouts Both are crucial to keeping your engine performing at its very best!