After being back at school since break, the gym has been packed to the max, it seems almost every hour of the day. Whether it is due to holiday overeating, New Year’s Eve resolutions, or simply keeping up with a workout routine, the gym seems to be a popular entity this semester.
How many of us consistently keep up with proper eating habits before and after work outs? According to Livestrong, nutrition and exercise go hand in hand, as it is very difficult, if not impossible, to be physically fit with one and not the other.
Eating the right foods per sweat session helps maximize the workout as well as energy levels throughout the day. Making sure the body gets enough nutrients before and after a workout actually helps to keep the immune system functioning and blood sugar levels stabilized throughout the day. Basically, this means that exercising on an empty stomach has a negative effect on fueling the body correctly.
The consumption of an early morning snack increases the metabolic rate (how fast the body burns calories) and kick starts the body into gear, telling it what to expect the rest of the day. If breakfast is not consumed, the body has trouble processing the next meal as quickly and tries to hold onto those nutrients. Since it didn’t get any morning fuel, it tries to hold onto the afternoon meal as long as possible instead of burning it right away.
Studies have shown that weight loss can be more difficult and weight gain more prevalent in people who do not consume morning meals. Those that skip breakfast have a tendency to consume more food than usual the next chance available to grab a bite to eat and also have a higher tendency to snack on high-calorie foods to keep hunger at bay until then.
Morning workout people should eat within 30 minutes of waking up so the body can jump-start its metabolism. Try having a few bites of oatmeal or half a banana; having something is better than nothing.
For people who like to work out in the afternoon, eat a light snack before the workout. Power foods like a small bowl of oatmeal, a banana, apple slices with peanut butter or muscle milk have substance but are small enough to not upset the stomach during the workout.
Eat within 30 minutes after working out so the body doesn’t start burning muscle. It’s important to fuel the body with some form of protein, so grab a handful or almonds or whip up a protein shake. Then, eat small meals every 3 hours throughout. Even if hunger is not present, having a small snack is still a smart decision. This will prevent waiting too long to eat and then overeating because the body feels like it is starving.
Senior Erin Kerchner played soccer for Millersville for the last four years and has kept up a consistent workout schedule. “I always eat breakfast, normally eggs or oatmeal. And I snack before I work out usually on fruit or almonds, but I try to eat a real meal after my work out. If I don’t have time or am not too hungry I have a protein shake.”
Livestrong also recommends avoiding foods that are high in fat and anything spicy before working out to avoid feeling sluggish and getting an upset stomach. It’s also extremely important to make sure the body is hydrated before hitting the gym. Try to drink two to three cups of water a few hours before working out and remember to bring water with you. Then hydrate throughout the day to replace all the water the body lost while sweating it out.
Senior Ray Del Giudice is working part time as a personal trainer this semester. “Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day. You want to eat at least an hour or so before a workout and after you can eat at any time, but the sooner the better.”