Powering Up With Energy Food For Combat Training
Eating To Power Up And Power Down
When and what to put in your body while training.
You may have heard conflicting stories about whether to eat before or after a workout, or even whether to eat at all. While your buddy at the gym may be training on an empty stomach to reduce body fat, eating a pre-workout meal puts you on the right path to attaining and maintaining a healthy body.
The key is knowing when and what to eat to suit your particular regimen. Here are a few pointers to help you.
Powering Up With Energy Foods
It is a common myth that eating before a workout is self-defeating, especially if you are working out to build muscle and maintain low body fat. Experts agree that training on an empty stomach is a poor strategy to use in resistance exercise programs.
You actually burn calories more efficiently by eating before you power up. Glycogen is the fuel used to fire muscle. If it’s not available when you train, your body will turn to other sources in an attempt to find muscle fuel. Ultimately, it will draw on muscle tissue as a source of energy. This doesn’t mean you have to start loading carbohydrates.
Consuming simple sugars right before training can reduce the amount of glycogen used during exercise, which can prolong performance and reduce the risk of your immune system becoming compromised. Higher glycogen and insulin levels have also been shown to create a hormonal milieu favorable to anabolism.
You should balance your pre-exercise meal so that it contains about 50 grams of carbohydrates and 5 to 10 grams of protein, totaling approximately 250 calories. A mixture of simple and complex carbohydrates is best before working out, with a little more emphasis on having fast-burning simple carbohydrates available for quick energy.
If endurance training is a big part of your regimen, make sure your pre-exercise meal contains significant amounts of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) such as milk. Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated. Drink 16 ounces (2 cups) of a beverage such as water, juice or a sport drink two hours prior to exercising, and then another 6 to 8 ounces immediately before your workout.
Drink 5 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes during exercise. If you’re training vigorously for longer than 90 minutes, you’ll need to take in some carbohydrates such as a sports drink or diluted fruit juice. For prolonged endurance events or activities (two or more hours), eat small, carbohydrate-rich snacks (approximately 15-20 gms/60-80 kcal of carbohydrate) about every 20 minutes.
Good choices include energy bars, dried fruits or oatmeal cookies. Taking in carbohydrates during prolonged exercise will hold off fatigue and enhance your performance.
If you’re working out to gain weight and power up muscle, your diet does need a slight adjustment. Because muscle is mostly water, only 2,500 extra calories are needed to gain a pound of muscle, compared to 3,500 excess calories to make a pound of fat.
Most of the extra calories needed for weight gain should come from complex carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, potatoes and pasta. The need for extra protein is highly publicized for muscle building, and the body does use more protein with weight training compared to being sedentary.
However, because the average American diet is already high in protein, that’s probably not something you need to worry about. A good rule of thumb when trying to gain weight is to add 300-500 calories per day for a goal weight gain of 1/2 to 1 pound per week.
So, how soon before your next work out should you eat? If you’re boosting your body with a pre-workout nutrition drink, finish it from 45 minutes to an hour before you work out. If you’re powering up with solid food, you should eat between 90 minutes and two hours before you work out. Don’t eat any closer to your workout due to the high probability of cramps while training
The post-exercise meal is the most important meal of the day. After a hard workout you will have literally “torn down” your muscle. They are not torn in the sense of an injury, but contain hundreds of microscopic tears. After working out, your muscles need optimum care to rebuild themselves.
The role of post-exercise nutrition is to replenish glycogen stores, which help to give muscle repairing and rebuilding a boost, while quickly restoring immune system function (which is compromised in high intensity workouts, particularly heavy weight training).
Research shows that in order to maximize muscle glycogen stores, carbohydrate rich foods should be consumed immediately after exercising. Timing is critical to restore muscle glycogen.
Water is the first thing to make sure you remember when planning your post workout meal. Your body is 80% water, which is used in the formation and burning of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It is also used to help keep your internal temperature down so you lose it through sweat and burning tissue.
Don’t underestimate the importance of re-hydrating after working out. Dehydration can actually cost you 20% of your strength. You need 4ml of water to store every gram of carbohydrates as glycogen. You also need water to replenish what you lost when you trained.
It’s important to spread your water out evenly, as taking in excessive amounts at once can actually work against you, raising blood pressure and causing your body to release Anti-Diuretic Hormones. If this happens, you’ll be releasing more water than you’re taking in.
Once you’ve quenched your thirst, you’re ready to power down with a healthy meal. If you have an intense weight-training regimen, you’ll need to consume 1-2 grams of carbohydrate and 0.5-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight after working out.
This will vary slightly depending on your own body weight and the duration of your workout. Thirty minutes after the workout is the best time for your post-workout meal. If you can’t manage that soon, eating within two hours is all right. After that, glycogen stores take far longer to adequately restore. Don’t lean too heavily towards complex carbohydrates in your post exercise meal.
Remember to use simple carbohydrates, they are quicker to stimulate production of insulin and complex carbs, which helps drive digested protein into the repairing muscles. Your healthy post-workout meal plan might include: baked potato with tuna and 1cup steamed carrots or a chicken breast and one sweet potato with a cup of cauliflower or black bean soup and a whole wheat roll followed by dried fruit.
Finally, your immune system is immediately suppressed after intense resistance exercise. The greater number of days you’re training, the higher you’re risk of fatigue and symptoms of overtraining will be. You can greatly reduce this risk by adding additional glutamine to your post-exercise meal. High-protein foods such as meat, fish, beans and dairy products are excellent sources of glutamine.
It can also be found in whey protein and is sold separately as a food supplement. This is also a good time to use antioxidants. Antioxidants can help repair oxidative tissue damage, while at the same time reducing muscle weakness caused by aging, and can boost the immune system in general.
Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. They are found in fresh sources including carrots, oranges and grapefruit and are also available in concentrated supplements.