DELMAR– Food pairing is often discussed in terms of which wines best complement particular dishes. But pairing food with exercise merits consideration, as it can create the balance needed for overall health.
Food plays an important role in workouts, giving individuals the energy necessary to perform at their peak. Timing meals appropriately and knowing what to eat before or after a workout can make a difference.
Creatine benefits lifting
Creatine is an organic acid that is an important ingredient for short duration, high-intensity exercises, such as weight lifting. According to Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., RDN, of Central Washington University, foods rich in protein from meat, poultry and fish can help optimize stores of creatine. Creatine also may be found in foods and beverages targeted to athletes, like protein shakes and snacks.
A snack or mini meal one to three hours before a workout is ideal so that digestive issues don’t occur during a workout when the body directs more blood to muscles than digestion. Food pairings that include a high quality carbohydrate, like whole grain bread or oatmeal, with a protein source, such as peanut butter or milk, can be key. Blood sugar will stay steady with whole grain carbs, and the protein will help you to feel full and avoid overeating after a workout.
Glucose, glycogen for running
Distance running or other exercises that require endurance, such as skating or biking, require ample energy stores. Although low-carbohydrate diets are popular for people looking to lose weight, they’re not ideal for people who engage in endurance sports and need carbohydrates for energy, states Johns Hopkins Medicine. Endurance athletes need more carbs than those who aren’t training. These activities use both glucose in the blood and glycogen, which is sugar stored in the liver and muscles. Eating plenty of healthy carbs helps bolster energy stores. Whole fruits and grains are good sources of carbohydrates.
Benefits of bananas
For those with limited time to grab a bite before a workout, bananas might be the perfect option. According to WebMD, bananas have easily digestible carbs that will not weigh you down. The potassium in bananas also may help prevent muscle cramps during and after workouts.
Power up with potatoes
Potatoes are whole foods, meaning they contain a balance of all the essential amino acids, despite being low in whole protein. They’re also rich in vitamin B6, which is critical to protein metabolism, says Mark Anthony, Ph.D., adjunct professor of science and nutrition at St. Edwards University, Austin. Potatoes also contain the right mix of sodium and potassium to maintain an electrolyte balance in the body.
A mix of carbohydrates and lean proteins also is ideal for exercise recovery. Mix in good fats like avocado and olive oil. Carbs will help replenish depleted levels of glycogen and high-quality protein will help build and repair muscle. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids to replace what was lost while working out.
Food and exercise go hand in hand. It’s important to eat well to keep the body in top form.