By Laurel House, Planet Green
If you want to get a really good workout, you have to remember to fuel it. It may seem counter-intuitive, but consuming some calories before, during and after your workout will actually help you to burn more calories. Conveniently, the greatest foods for fueling your green exercise are often the greenest: natural, whole, organic local foods.
Food is your body’s fuel. But don’t just go out and grab a candy bar and consider yourself adequately gassed up. Though they aren’t called “candy bars,” many of your favorite “energy” and “protein” bars are loaded with just as much sugar as a chocolate bar. So how do you know what’s “healthy” when it comes to the best food to fuel your workout? If it’s green it’s good (at least most of the time).
Generally speaking, green foods—consisting of organic, nutrient-rich ingredients, are the most efficient and effective source for sustained energy throughout your workout, while supporting more effective muscle strengthening, calorie and fat burn.
Why Green Foods Make Good Fuel for Workouts
According to Fitness and body guru Andrea Orbeck (who happens to train several of the Victoria’s Secret models including Heidi Klum) whose background, beyond personal training includes a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and certifications ranging from Intracellular Physiology to Postural Design and Myofascial Release technique, “Nutrition, in relation to your exercise program or ‘meal cadence,’ can promote energy, performance and proper recovery.” She believes that the base of good nutrition, and therefore a properly functioning body, is green.
Andrea has all of her clients start their day in a very green way—organic green juice. Why? To rid the system of stuck toxins and get the intestines moving smoothly first thing in the morning. “Over time, our increased exposure and ingestion of our toxic and chemical environment, (incorrect eating habits of acid foods, hormones, GMO foods, chemicals in products and air pollutants, to name a few!) effects our digestive systems and consequently our body.” For fast nutrients to get the system moving first thing in the morning, she suggests home-juiced alkalizing organic vegetables and organic leafy greens concocting a mixture made from romaine, kale, cucumber, zucchini, apple, lemon and ginger. (Hey, if Heidi does it, so will I!) Once the body machine is working properly, it’s time to convert that energy through exercise.
Andrea explains that when you exercise, your body burns through stored energy to sustain your movement. Your body then turns to a system called “glycolosis” to replace this energy. Glycolosis is a process of converting sugars (carbs) into usable energy that we need to contract a muscle and make a movement.
When it comes to what to eat pre, during, and post-workout, Michael Yang, L.Ac. DOM reminds us that “everyone’s bodies respond differently to workouts and foods. But unless you are a serious muscle head and need 5 lbs of fresh meat on you for tryouts in a month, or the Tour de France is on your radar, you can really stick to the general basics.”
Next Page: Some of Yang’s food suggestions.
Pre-Workout Green Food Ideas
- 2 hours prior to your workout eat a carbohydrate heavy (60%) meal. Think organic chicken and quinoa or line-caught fish and wild rice with veggies. Vegetarian beans and rice works well too.
- No time for a real meal? Eat something that your body can easily digest like a protein drink. Choose protein powder from whey, soy, or flax. Blend it with 1/2 cup organic frozen fruit and 1 1/2 cups water. The liquefied food will allow your body to quickly use its energy without diverting blood required for digestion to the stomach (which can cause cramping and detract from your workout).
- 30 minutes before your workout, try a banana.
During Exercise Green Food Ideas
- Consistently Hydrate.
- Consider electrolytes like watered down organic fruit or tomato juice.
- Forget fiber during your workout as it may upset your stomach while you’re moving around, so save it for later.
Post-Exercise Green Food Ideas
- 30 minutes to 2 hours after you workout, eat a protein heavy (60%) balanced meal.
A handful of nuts and dried fruits can provide a post workout balanced protein/carb meal. It’s especially great when you know your post workout meal is hours away. During long days, we like to keep a small container of it in the car or purse as a healthy quick-fix snack.
In order to regulate yourself and your body’s personal needs, experiment with different foods and food combinations. Because you likely won’t remember the most effective food choices, Yang recommends that you keep a food journal, that way you can track your progress, be aware of your pitfalls, and eat consciously.