Another monthly Q&A! This month we had questions about working out, student life and energy!
What should I eat before and after a workout?
This answer is quite individualized, and it depends on the type of workout you are doing and the time of day you are exercising. Generally, carbohydrates provide you with quick energy while protein and fat provide sustained energy, which is helpful for most forms of exercise. Enjoying a source of a complex carbohydrate (i.e. sweet potato, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, a grain etc.) with protein ( i.e.nut butter, egg) and fat (i.e. nut butter, hemp hearts, avocado) can be great for sustained energy during a workout. If you are in ketosis, having a snack with fat is what you need to keep energy up during a workout. Some of my clients like to start the day with a fasted workout, which may be helpful for specific fitness goals, but is not for everyone!
Some of my favourite pre-workout snacks or meals include toast with peanut butter, sliced banana and sprinkled hemp hearts or a homemade energy ball.
Post-workout meals or snacks typically include a good portion of protein with a good source of carbohydrates. When we think of post-workout nutrition we think of “recovery”. Right after you exercise your muscles are open to receiving amino acids from protein, which help to form and build muscles. You actually need carbohydrates for the protein to enter the muscles properly. If you have a sweet tooth, enjoying something higher glycemic (aka higher in sugar) is best during this time compared to other times of the day.
Some of my favourite post-workout snacks or meals include a smoothie with protein powder and banana, or a meal that includes chicken, salmon or lentils with sweet potato or brown rice.
Do you have any tips for students?
Here are my tips for students!
1. Healthy Snacks; you can not control all meals (i.e. crazy schedule, cafeteria meals), but keeping healthy snacks in your dorm or purse is a great way to get quick energy. Nuts, seeds, trail mixes (no sugar or oil), Lara bars or bounce bars are great options.
2. Meal Prep/Batch Cooking; this tip can help you save time and is usually cost effective. Allocate 1-2 hours on one day a week and make large batches of a healthy dish. Soups, chili, curry, stews are all great options.
3. Buy in Bulk; buying food in bulk is a great way to save money. You can buy healthy ingredients like beans, lentils, whole grains, pasta and more.
What are the best foods for energy?
Other than medical conditions or nutrition deficiencies that can contribute to fatigue, the first thing I think of when I think about sustainable energy is focusing on balancing blood sugar.
Nutrient dense foods help to provide the body with energy that it needs to thrive, however balancing blood sugar levels is key. Lowering sugar intake, and including a source of fibre, protein with healthy fat at each meal and snack is something to strive towards.
If you struggle with low energy note the times of day or days of the week that you feel more lethargic as this can be helpful at determining the reason behind it. In my practice, I often hear my clients feel tired around 3 or 4, or right after work. This is often when blood sugar drops and is typically due to processed foods, sugar, caffeine and lack of balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. If you struggle with low energy, or with creating balanced meals or snacks for yourself, a Nutritionist can help!
Thank you to those of you who sent in your questions! If you want to see your nutrition question answered, please pop on over to our Instagram and send us a DM!