I don’t know how many of you readers are involved in high intensity training or sports, but I think it’s important to talk about, considering the fact that prior to reading this article by Brendan Brazier, I really wasn’t sure what was best to feed my body to achieve optimal performance. Sure, I’m a “clean” eater. Huge fan of vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and lean protein…but when should I eat what on the day of a game?!
Here’s what the article had to say:
“When it comes to training, proper nutrition is as important as physical activity itself. Without the proper fueling, your body simply cannot perform at its peak, ultimately derailing the efforts of training. While determination will get you going, nutrition is what dictates your performance and success.”
First: Nutrient Timing
Pre-workout fueling can not only help you go longer and stronger, but can also help your body recover for the next session
What you consume right before exercise takes those nutritional elements from just eating to directly impacting athletic performance
Many pre-workout drinks are very heavy on the protein. Yes, your body needs protein to repair muscle tissue, but it is best consumed after training or only in small amounts, just before exercise
Second: Balanced Fuel Sources
Your body needs sugars or glucose to provide energy for muscles, especially within 20-30 minutes of exercise.
**This doesn’t mean we’re supposed to snort pixie sticks or anything like that…high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or white sugar do not provide sustained energy because they shoot immediately into the bloodstream and disappear just as quick, causing an equally quick crash***
The GI system, or glycemic index, which reflects the rate at which the sugars from a particular food get absorbed into the blood stream, can be a useful tool in choosing what to consume.
**A slower burn—meaning a lower GI number—is better. High GI foods provide immediate fuel, but should be derived from natural sources like whole grains or fruits.
A combination of both high and low GI foods provides the best, balanced energy to sustain your workout.
Here’s the part I REALLY didn’t know about…
Since your body directs all of its energy to sustain your body during exercise, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and colorings not only provide zero energy, they also put unnecessary strain on the body to process, so they should be avoided.
^ AKA, zero calorie sports drinks such as powerade zero, sobe lifewater, etc(!!)
Third: Mental Focus
The premise of many pre-workout product formulations is to give the body a boost of a stimulant, tricking your brain into thinking it is simultaneously rested and revved up.
Studies have shown that moderate amounts of caffeine can increase performance—but you can have too much of a good thing! Athletes’ responses to caffeine vary, leaving some feeling nauseated or too jittery to perform, so the amount and source of caffeine or other natural stimulants pre-workout can make a big difference in performance.
Green tea has some caffeine, but also provides potent antioxidants for cellular repair. Rhodiola also naturally boosts endurance but along with green tea provides mental clarity and focus. These ingredients, combined with the natural stimulant Yerba Mate, create a powerful, yet sustained boost, aiding in endurance for both the body and brain. These can also to help increase aerobic and anaerobic capacity while aiding in recovery.
I hope this article was as helpful for you as it was for me! Thanks, Brendan for the awesome tips! I’ll be sure to remember them while I’m wondering what to use for fuel prior to the big game!