inner athlete

By: Heather Snively, MS, RD
You have worked hard to get that summer body, but are you getting the most from your workouts? Don’t waste all of that precious time spent away from the newest season of Game of Thrones by eating food that doesn’t support you at being your best. It’s important to time meals and snacks to maximize your efforts. Let’s talk about the best ways to fuel before and replenish after a workout.
Carbohydrate focus with protein in a supporting role
Muscles require quick energy to power movement. Carbohydrates are the quickest form of energy, making them the best option to fuel activity. Protein consumed prior to a workout can help maintain stable blood sugar and help a little with muscle repair but it really works in a supporting role. Don’t miss the revelation: Carbs are not all bad! You’re welcome.
What’s a good pre-workout snack?
Something that is easy to digest
Have you ever eaten something before exertion and gotten a stomach ache? That’s because you are asking your body to do too many things at once. When you eat something prior to working out, you want to keep the portion small and choose something that’s easy to digest. Just in case you need another reason to continue your carb love affair, carbohydrates are easy to digest, making it the perfect option.
Here are some examples:
– Fruit and ½ a stick of string cheese
– Oatmeal with a little bit of peanut butter
– Toast with 1 ounce of turkey
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Whatever you try, eat a small amount and then pay attention to how you feel.  If you feel like your inner athlete has been ignited, you are probably on the right track.
Protein focus with carbohydrate in a supporting role
Protein serves to rebuild and strengthen muscles. While it is good to consume protein, it’s important to recognize that you can consume too much. We don’t digest more than about 30g in one meal, so anything more than that isn’t helping you, despite what supplement companies might tell you. So you know that big vat of protein powder in your kitchen?  Might be a good idea to slow your roll a bit there.
The best source of protein? Real food.  (What a concept!)
Supplement companies may say things like, “We have whey protein which is the best for rebuilding muscles” or “our electrolyte formula is perfectly balanced to replace what you lost sweating” but their products aren’t necessarily better for you.  Plus, their hefty price tag certainly does not lead to a healthy wallet.  Real food offers fewer preservatives and is perfect for your body to digest. Not to go totally purist on you, recovery products do offer a convenient way to replenish after a workout – they can easily be put into a gym bag.
Some great real food protein options are:
– Chocolate milk – a great balance of protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes.
– Yogurt with fruit
– Tuna on whole what crackers
– Hummus with crudité
Timing your food after exercise 
A lot of attention has been given to when you should eat during recovery. Meals or snacks don’t have to be taken instantly after a workout, but you do want to eat soon after finishing – ideally within an hour.
There is so much more to be said about how to ignite your inner athlete, but this is a start. If you’d like to learn more, I’d recommend reading, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.  If Guckenheimer is your corporate café’s onsite food service provider, you also have the excellent resource of our Nutrition Strategy team should you have any questions.
food for performance
fuel carbohydrates protein hydration

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