How Do You Fuel Your Workout?   

How Do You Fuel Your Workout?

Energy bars, fitness drinks, protein powders, sports supplements are these the best ways to power your workout? Here's the scoop on which foods can help fuel your fitness efforts.
Your body needs fuel for exercise, but eating a large meal right before working out can cause discomfort.
Exercising muscles draws blood away from the stomach, slowing digestion and causing stomach upset. To avoid this, wait 1 hour to 4 hours after a meal before exercising. The larger the meal, the longer you should wait.

If you haven't eaten in several hours, however, your fuel tank will be on empty. A small snack (such as yogurt, half a bagel, or a piece of fruit) eaten 30 minutes to 60 minutes before exercise will boost flagging blood sugar levels without causing you nausea or indigestion.

Carbohydrate is your body's preferred fuel, so include whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, or nonfat or low-fat dairy products in meals and snacks eaten before a workout. Liquid meals, such as milk and fruit smoothies, are also an option.
Avoid high-fat foods, because they slow digestion. It's important to drink enough water during exercise.

Energy bars are convenient but they're not magical. Their "energy" comes from about 250-calories worth of carbohydrates, fat and protein. Special ingredients such as ginseng and ginkgo in some bars won't provide any additional energy boost. Choose low-fat bars with no more than 20 grams of protein. A bagel, yogurt, and fruit or fig bars will give you just as much energy and cost less.

Sports drinks replace water in sweat and provide carbohydrates for energy. Drink them if your workout is strenuous and lasts more than an hour, or if you sweat profusely.

Drink two cups of sports drink or water before and after exercising, and small amounts every 15 minutes to 20 minutes during exercise. By the time you are thirsty, you are already somewhat dehydrated.
Get most of your carbohydrates from less-processed whole foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Sports supplements abound, but most have not been proven to boost performance Amino acids don't appear to build muscle any better than the more balanced protein in food. Skip the protein powders, too.
Serious athletes need slightly more protein than others, but most people get plenty of protein from food. Chromium picolinate is touted for muscle building too, but the research is unclear.

Creatine, found in meat, fish and poultry, is also made in the body from amino acids.

A few studies show that it improves performance in activities like sprinting and jumping, which require short bursts of energy. But it won't help recreational exercisers or endurance athletes.

Bottom line: Whether you're a weekend warrior or a seasoned athlete, your best performance comes from eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids.

Protein is an essential component of hone, muscle, skin, hair and other parts of your body. The body makes protein from amino acids found in protein-rich foods, but it can't store amino acids- so you have to eat protein every day.

Sources: There are essential and nonessential amino acids.
Essential amino acids are those the body can't make so they must be in a daily diet: non-essential amino acids are those the body is able to make. Complete proteins are proteins that contain all the essential amino acids.

These are found in red meat, fish, poultry, milk and eggs. Egg white is an excellent source of complete protein, with milk as a close runner-up. Meanwhile, different types of meat may vary in fat content, but all meats contain the same amount of protein.

Incomplete proteins are those that do not contain all the essential amino acids. These are found in plants. By eating a variety of plant foods, though, your diet can include all the essential amino acids. Carbohydrates include sugars, starches and fiber. Sugars and starches provide energy for the body. During digestion, sugars and starches break down into the simple sugar, glucose, and enter the bloodstream.

Sources: Simple carbohydrates, which are naturally occurring sugars, are found in milk, honey, fruits and, to a lesser extent, vegetables. Complex carbohydrates, the starches, are found in vegetables, grains and beans. Fiber, another complex carbohydrate, is found in both fruits and vegetables.

Get most of your carbohydrates from less-processed whole foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains Eat 6 to 11 servings of complex carbohydrates daily. What's a serving? A slice of whole-grain bread, a half-cup of whole-wheat pasta, or one-third cup of brown rice.

The body needs fat for energy, to pad Organs, and to transport vitamins. However, too much fat can cause obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease. But not all fats harm you if eaten in moderation. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may actually help lower cholesterol Saturated fats and trans fats may increase cholesterol and are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. All fats have nine calories per gram; this is more calories than protein or carbohydrates.

Sources: Monounsaturated fats are found mainly in olive oil, canola oil and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are found mainly in vegetable oils, such as soybean, corn and canola oils. Saturated fats are found mainly in red meat, butter, cheese, poultry, lard, solid shortenings, and milk.

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