Breaking Down Nutrition to Best Fuel YOUR Performance
Updated: Apr 1
Are you feeling lost on what to eat before exercise? With all of the conflicting information spread on social media by non-professionals, it can get confusing fast. This is because only Registered Dietitians 🙋♀️ have the knowledge and capability of providing catered information to your individual nutrition needs.
Here at A4 Health, our Registered Dietitians have a shared mission to help athletes achieve their highest potential with the implementation of OPTIMAL nutrition strategies. Here you will find no frills, no average approaches, and absolutely no cookie-cutter programming! We are here to support YOU!
There are many things to consider when fueling for exercise: consuming all macronutrients throughout the day (carbs, fat, protein, fiber), hydration, workout duration, workout intensity, metabolism, and nutrition science! That is a LOT to wrap your mind around, which is why getting personalized recommendations 🙋♀️ is key to getting the MOST out of your hard work! Here are some beginner tips and information to optimize your training window↓
CARBOHYDRATES🥖: Primary fuel for your body! Sticking to quick-digesting carbs aka “simple carbs” (sports drinks, fruits, fruit juices, crackers, pretzels) within 60 minutes of your workout will prevent you from experiencing digestive complications that come with complex, fiber-rich carbs (high-fiber/whole wheat breads, large amounts of vegetables). You can save those for after you have done all the hard work.
PROTEIN🥩🍳: Essential structure that feeds our muscle to rebuild - our muscles are breaking down 24/7 (even when you are not working out!). The building blocks of protein are amino acids and consuming a 3rd party tested amino acid drink (we will cover what that means in an upcoming post😉) while working out supports muscle structure as well. Otherwise, emphasize post-workout protein to stimulate muscle tissue repair and growth.
There are 9 essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Our body cannot make those amino acids on their own, so we must obtain them from our diet in order to allow proper functioning. Optimizing this protein intake will allow for tissue growth, immune function, energy production, and hormone regulation.
Foods with all the essential amino acids, called a complete protein, include: meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, and soybeans (soy products like soy milk, tofu, and tempeh included).
However, incomplete protein foods that are paired together strategically can create complete proteins. This can be beneficial for non-meat eaters looking for optimal protein sources. Examples of this include red beans and rice, whole grain bread with nut butter, beans and crackers, hummus and pita bread. Meaning, getting sufficient complete protein is ABSOLUTELY obtainable even if animals/animal products are restricted in your own diet.
FAT🥜: Essential for nutrient absorption, healing, recovery, and decreasing inflammation. This digests the slowest out of all three macronutrients and consumption should be avoided close to a workout.
There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated
Saturated fat: mostly in a solid state at room temperature; tend to raise the LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase heart disease, and stroke; found in coconut oil, palm oil, meat products, and dairy products
Unsaturated fat: mostly in a liquid state at room temperature; considered “healthy” beneficial fats that help to lower LDL cholesterol, ease inflammation; found in avocados, cooking oils, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
There are two types of unsaturated fat: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated
Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat. Check out our previous post where Dietitian Christina breaks down why omega-3s are so beneficial to our bodies: https://www.a4.health/post/why-this-salmon-bowl-is-healthgoals
FIBER🥗: A type of carbohydrate the body can’t digest. It helps to regulate our body’s hunger and blood sugar. It is mainly found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Consumption close to a workout should also be avoided to prevent digestive pain and unwanted symptoms (talk about ruining those exercise vibes🙅♀️).
The daily dietary fiber recommendations for women is 25-30g and for men is up to 35 grams. However, the optimal amount consumed per person is heavily individualistic based on the their own digestive tolerance. It is important to understand that fiber aids in digestion and both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are needed in a balanced diet.
Soluble fiber: dissolves in water
Turns to a gel during digestion
Slows down digestion
Sources: oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits/vegetables
Insoluble fiber: doesn’t dissolve in water
Adds bulk to stool
Speeds up digestion
Sources: wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains
Phew, that is a LOT of information! However, that is only some of the background information needed to then decide how to cater this knowledge to YOUR body’s needs. Not only that, the nutrition science and metabolic knowledge that ONLY Registered Dietitians have an understanding of are essential for safe and optimal nutrition changes. This can all be very confusing and WE are here to close that gap for you!
Book a 15-minute FREE consultation with one of our elite Registered Dietitians to discover how we can help you discover your optimal health: https://www.a4.health/client-portal
Until next time,
Your RD Fuel Good Experts🍍