Feed Your Fitness
Story by Becca Edwards
When it comes to achieving optimal wellness, you need to feed your fitness. This means consuming the best nutrition before, during and after your workout, as well as nutrient dense, power-packed foods like fresh produce and lean proteins for maintenance. Laura Fromdahl of Tri Strong Coaching, a business that combines her background as a physical therapist and USAT triathlon coach, breaks down what and when to eat throughout the day to be your healthiest self.
When you eat can be as equally important as what you eat. Fromdahl recommends, “Have your last solid meal two to three hours prior to your workout. A solid meal depends on the activity you are doing. Swimming, for example, you might want a smoothie or something light but well-balanced two hours beforehand. But if you are going to go on a run you will want something more substantial like avocado toast three hours beforehand. Then 15 to 30 minutes prior to your workout, consume easily digestible carbs that are low in fat and fiber. For example, 15 minutes before you swim you can eat two medjool dates, one banana, or one and half cups of apple sauce. If you are running, you can eat the same things but 30 minutes before you run.”
During the Workout
“During a workout, you want performance fuels that are easily digestible and low in fat and fiber, too,” Fromdahl said. “Also, you want one bottle of sports drink per hour. If exercising less than one hour, you do not need anything other than water during your workout. If you are exercising more than one hour, you will want a sports drink or other supplement that includes protein that should be consumed in increments of every 15 minutes.”
“Post workout is when things get exciting,” joked Fromdahl. “If you want to drop a few pounds, you want to wait 30 to 45 minutes before replenishment. If you are happy with your weight, you have 30 minutes to restore your muscle-glycogen stores and speed up your recovery process.” Fromdahl has found that refueling has spawned an entire category of pre-packaged food products and protein shakes purported to optimize recovery, however, by eating real food you can achieve the same level of nutrition—if not better. Fromdahl believes people way overdo their recovery snack. “They believe they burned more calories than they did and eat more than they need to.” This is why some people gain weight while training, especially for events like half marathons. Opt for post workout treats such as one to two tablespoons of almond butter on one half of an apple, or six ounces of chocolate almond milk, or a small serving of full fat, plain Greek yogurt. “You do not need as many carbs post workout. You should concentrate more on good quality protein and fats,” said Fromdahl.
Guidelines For Maintaining
“Over the last 10 years I have been doing this for myself as well as clients, I’ve seen several trends. The biggest one I’ve seen is everybody is different depending on their mirco-biome,” said Fromdahl. Your micro-biome is your own personal gut flora and it dictates how you digest foods, as well as several other important life functions such as sleep, mood and immune system. “That is why I encourage people to investigate which foods make them feel the best. Some people do not do well with dairy. Others gluten. Others nightshades. You need to take extreme ownership of your gut and find the foods that best fit your needs. Having said this, I tell people to mainly focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins.”
“Also, people overestimate how many calories they need. Across the board, many people eat too much. Do not reward yourself with food after a workout. You should fuel to train and live and the fuel you are taking in is actually for the next day’s training,” she said.
Once you get on a good program and start seeing success, that’s when you can also work with someone like Fromdahl to customize your “feed your fitness” routine even more. This might even include incorporating intermittent fasting and other strategies.
10 healthy greens to add to your diet now
1. Cruciferous greens (kale, collards, Swiss chard)
2. Fresh green herbs (dill, parsley, basil)
3. Living greens (mung beans, broccoli and sunflower sprouts)
4. Spicy greens (arugula and mustards)
6. Green pods (snap peas, snow peas and garden peas)
8. Green apples and kiwi
9. Green powders (chlorella, spirulina and barley grass)
10. Green juices