In a recent study conducted by Rutgers' Robert Wood Johnson Medical School on female athletes ages 13, two decades of research revealed that many women lack the nutrition needed for energy output during sports and exercise.
So many women are prioritizing the time to exercise in efforts to better their fitness, reduce stress, and energize there day - but too many of us enter our workouts under-fueled. Which begs the question, when we're thrown all sorts of diet trends like fasting, keto, and low-carb, what is the proper pre-workout nutrition to make sure your work is, well, working? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to food for fuel.
1. Carbs are NOT the enemy
A tale as old as time, we're often coached to stay away from carbs. But when it comes to energizing for activity, carbs provide the most readily-available source of fuel for the body. If you're looking to workout in the morning, it can be challenging to reach our desired level of intensity if we are carb-depleted.
However, not all carbs are are the same. While sugars and refined grains are broken down pretty instantly and provide immediate fuel, it's not likely to last. (These are what we call the empty calories - the ones that aren't necessarily doing anything for you!)
Instead, try a whole grain snack in the early morning, or vegetables if you're working out later in the day. Complex carbs like your fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain less sugar and more fiber and are broken down at a slower rate, keeping you going, longer. A solid favorite is a piece of whole grain toast and half a banana, 45 minutes to 60 minutes before your workout.
2. Water, water & more water
Optimal hydration means getting the right amount of water before, during, and after your workout (not just the quick glass you chugged before pilates!) Water not only regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints, but it also helps transport nutrients to deliver the energy from your workout fuel we mentioned above.
Your body requires fluid for it's best cardiovascular performance. Ever notice your heart rate seems to beat a little faster during your workout the morning after a few glasses of wine? When low on fluids, your heart has to work that much harder to transport blood to your muscles and throughout your body, which can cause more strain.
Without proper hydration, it will be challenging for your body to perform at its best.
3. Supplement in a pinch
We believe in a food-first with supplementation approach. In the research found in Gastrich's Rutgers study, "deficiencies in vitamin D, zinc, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins can occur from exercise-related stress and inadequate dietary intakes." If your days are moving quickly from commitment to commitment, lack of time as well as the getting proper nutrients adjacent to your workouts can be challenging. Consider supplementing your food intake where you see the holes - i.e. with B vitamins that help with focus and energy levels, that are often lacking in our daily diet. Aila can be a great solve for that!
4. And, eat again!
This one goes without saying but again, the world of fitness can often put out the assumption that less is more when it comes to eating. For a sustainable workout regimen and a healthy lifestyle, it is important to ensure you are consuming enough calories to keep up with your lifestyle. Low energy levels pre and post workout, constant hunger, issues with sleep, and irritability can all be obvious signs that you may not be eating enough. We like to champion eating small meals frequently, every 3-4 hours (ultimately 5-6 times a day), to keep energy and serotonin levels up, leaving you ready for your next sweat.