The 6 best workout foods
What should you eat before a training session?
This is a great question if you are looking to increase your exercise but still want to lose weight. Get it wrong, and chances are you’ll just end up tired, hungry and lacking in motivation.
Burn fat not glycogen
Doing heavier loads of exercise can require slightly different types of food but that doesn’t mean that you need to – or should – eat lots carbohydrates before a session. Ideally when we exercise, we want our body to use a mix of stored glucose (called glycogen) and body fat. If we want to lose body fat, we will get better results if we can use more body fat and less glycogen. Loading up on carbohydrates before a run or a training session will give you more immediate energy for your workout but your body needs to burn through the energy from the food first before burning body fat.
This why training on an empty stomach is thought to be more effective for fat loss. Without the energy provided from recent food consumption, your body is left no option but to burn body fat.
Eating too many carbohydrates before exercise can also cause a spike in insulin which means that it’s impossible for fat to be used as a source of energy even if your body wants to. Eventually this causes depletion of your glycogen levels which makes you hungry and tired after training. If you feel ravenously hungry, cold or exhausted after exercise, this is a clue that you are burning glycogen and not body fat.
The 6 best workout foods
Chia: also known as Indian Running Food, these tiny nutritional power packs contain slow release carbohydrates which feed your energy over a sustained period instead of spiking it and making you flag halfway through your run or workout. They’re also a good source of amino acids to help repair muscles and electrolytes to help with hydration levels.
Raw cacao: the raw chocolate bean contains chemicals that make us feel good and more motivated to exercise. It’s also known to reduce the development of DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness – or the muscle pain you get the day after the day that you train hard.
Coconut oil: a food source of MCTs – medium chain triglycerides – which feed our cells, giving us more energy, boosting metabolism and increasing fat burning. It’s also thought that they help to spare proteins ie our muscles while we exercise.
Sweet potato: contains long chains of glucose which are broken down slowly to provide a constant supply of energy.
Plant based protein powder: taken before training, protein provides muscle cells with essential amino acids so that they can function well under pressure and recover much faster.
Rice malt syrup: similar to sweet potato in that it contains a slowly released source of energy to make your workouts even more effective.
Make your own natural pre-workout treat
Most pre-work out products or endurance gels are full of rubbish (to put it politely) and go against the principles of healthy naturopathic weight loss. Using products full of sugar or maltodextrin will make you feel good but won’t help improve your metabolism or help you burn fat.
This mix contains the perfect mix of good fuel to keep you going and just enough stimulation to make it feel easy AND is caffeine free.
Have it about 15 minutes before you exercise and not only will it fuel your workout and help burn more body fat but it will help you recover as well.
1 handful of cooked sweet potato
½ scoop of plant based protein powder
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp raw cacao
2 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp rice malt syrup
Mash or blend this together then shape in balls and refrigerate. Have one ball before a long run or hard training session.