By Caroline Mackey, CNP, PTS
Living an active lifestyle is an integral part to our health and wellbeing, both mental and physical. There’s so many different ways you may choose to be active, whether it’s a sport, a fitness class, going for a run or bike ride, or simply chasing your kids around the lawn. However you choose to be active, how you fuel your body can make all the difference to having an effective workout.
When I work with clients, for both nutrition and fitness, I see some common pitfalls that tend to happen, which can unintentionally derail your plans and goals. Here are the top 5 mistakes that I see regularly:
1. Not eating before a workout:
This is especially common for those of you who choose to work out when you first get up in the morning. Either you feel you don’t have the time, or perhaps eating before you workout makes you sick to your stomach. However, what you don’t realize is if you work out on a completely empty stomach it’s a counterproductive workout. It is a myth that you burn more fat if you exercise on an empty stomach. Your body needs fuel for energy, and if it’s not getting it from food you consumed, then your body will find that fuel by converting your muscle tissue to energy. So you lose muscle mass, when you want to be doing the opposite! A simple go-to before a workout is a healthy homemade protein smoothie: include protein, greens, berries and some ground flax seeds for an easily digestible and delicious pre-workout fuel.
2. Not eating after a workout:
It is important to have something both before and after you workout. As mentioned above, your body needs fuel and energy to burn. Once that energy has been burned, the stores need to be replenished. An easy way to do that is to have half your smoothie before you workout, then pack up the other half and have it when you’re done exercising.
3. Eating sports products:
Most protein bars and any other sports ‘food’ is not food at all. They are full of manufactured ingredients and most importantly tons of processed sugar. You don’t need that much sugar to fuel your workouts, and all those fake ingredients are doing nothing for your body and are not proper nutrition. Often you will unintentionally consumer more calories than you burn, just with a small bar or bite or some sort.
4. Using sugary sports drinks:
Marketing companies have done a good job of making us believe we need to refuel with sugary electrolyte sports drinks. Not only is all that sugar unnecessary, but for most of us we don’t need to replenish electrolytes that way. If you work out for less than an hour, water is typically all you need.
A great workout can often make us feel fantastic. Perhaps we meet friends for brunch afterwards, and we make the decision to have that sugary pile of waffles or the extra creamy hollandaise rich egg dish. We absolutely should enjoy the food we eat, and a treat from time to time is fine, but often we make the mistake that because we’ve worked out it means we can eat whatever we feel like. Continue to make healthy food choices and have richer foods in moderation only. Otherwise all that hard work at the gym will go right out the window with that pile of duck fat poutine.
There are many other factors that go into good sports nutrition, including considering the type of workout you’re doing, the goals you’re working towards and the duration and intensity of the workouts. To learn more, come join me this Saturday at 1:30pm for a workshop on sports nutrition. In addition to lots of information, I’ll have some samples for you to try and recipes to bring home with you. I’d love to see you there!