You’re active. You’re dedicated. You’re diligent. You carve out time to get the body moving almost every single day, whether first thing in the morning, a power session at lunch, or burning the midnight oil. It’s a part of your routine. Embedded in your identity. Sometimes it's a struggle. It’s often a push but it’s always a top priority. And all this is amazing! It's impressive! I'd even call it enviable! But, the truth is, this keen commitment could all be for nothing if you’re not doing your due diligence outside of the gym too!
That’s right, hate to be the one to break it to ya, but there is also work to be done before and after the sweat session to ensure maximum benefit. (They couldn’t make it easier for us, could they?!) You see, the body is kinda like a car - you can soup it up, take it through the touchless carwash and do all the auto body work your little heart desires, but if the car needs an oil change or the tires need air, then all of that superficial work has gone to waste. Just a side note - you just witnessed my first and last car analogy. Not exactly my area of expertise. What is right in my sweet spot, though, is maximizing the benefits of working out and not letting one second of hard work go to waste. With that - here’s the checklist you need to make the most of your workout!
No workout, big or small, will be successful if you don’t have the energy to get through it. Period. End of story. Makes sense, right? Don’t let fatigue stand in the way of a successful sweat, and the best way to do that is by arming yourself with B vitamins! B’s are essential for the body to help produce and efficiently metabolize energy. B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12… there are a lot of different B supplements that all contribute to your body’s energy, in a big way. But that can get confusing, pricey and no one wants to swallow 17 thousand pills every morning. Simplify by popping a B complex vitamin to reap all the major energy benefits, without having to find a place to store a hundred different pill bottles!
Another essential component in fighting fatigue is oxygen! This statement comes as no surprise, I’m sure. Without ample oxygen, our stamina is toast. Iron levels play a major role in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency can lead to a slew of unpleasant and often dangerous side effects, including major fatigue. It can also be a major barrier in exercising efficiently, or at all! Make sure you’re getting the iron you need so that you can hit the gym as hard as you want. (Women need approximately 18mg of iron each day, while men only need about 8mg.) You can fill up on iron rich foods like dark greens, beans, dried fruit and red meat, or you can opt for an iron supplement.
The food we consume pre and post exercise is a major piece of the puzzle. The problem is, in our culture of diet fads and sensational health headlines, it’s hard to decipher what foods we should keep and which ones we should ban for life. High fat, low carb? No carb, no fat? High protein? Paleo! Vegan? Hard to keep it straight! If you look back to the beginning of time when men and women lived in caves, they ate not for sport or weight loss. They ate to fuel their bodies so they could go out and hunt, survive and procreate. Somewhere along the way we stopped viewing food in this way and started eating for sport instead of using it to benefit sport!
To make a long story even longer, the fuel rules are simple: the body needs carbohydrates in order to have energy. Carbs are to the body like gas is to a car. We simply cannot move without it. (Oops, I guess I lied. THAT was the last car analogy!) The key to the carb craze is ensuring you’re getting the right kind of carbs at the right time, otherwise it will get stored as fat. Optimal time for carb intake is before a big workout. Your body will use the calories from the carbohydrates as it’s main source of fuel. The optimal type of carbs are foods that will release the energy slowly instead of peaking too soon and running low for the rest of the session. The best foods for this are: whole oats, legumes and slow releasing, low glycemic fruit. I recommend something like the Elevate Me Oatmeal or a Larabar about an hour before your workout. Whatever you choose, do not let the fad diets fool you - carbs are cool, and more importantly will make sure you can go harder for longer.
consumption before a workout is equally as important as your protein
consumption after a workout. While carbs gives you energy, protein ensures that
your body has what it needs to help build and repair muscles and tissues in the
body (among a host of other incredible functions!) Protein is like the Ryan
Seacrest of food – hard working, multi-talented and way more influential behind
the scenes than you’d like to admit. (Now there’s an analogy that’s right in my
wheelhouse.) When we exercise, our muscles break down; consuming protein
afterwards helps to repair them so they can grow and develop. Try a delicious
shake using a scoop of whey or vegan based protein or try a
protein bar like Simply Whey, and start on the long road to looking
like JLo. Don’t tell me you think that booty made itself! Squats + protein =