Most of us know our body needs nutrients to function its best especially during workouts. However, you may hear a bunch of different advice on how to properly fuel your body to complement your workouts. Here are six common questions to clear up that are often asked about this subject.
1.) Will protein make my muscles bigger and/or stronger?
Protein is important to consume as part of a healthy diet but consuming protein will not make your muscles grow or get bigger. The only way protein can help your muscles get stronger is to work them out.
2.) Carbohydrates as fuel
"Carbohydrates are the best fuel for working muscles," says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Heather Mangieri, MS, RDN, CSSD. Carbohydrates are partially converted to glycogen, which is stored in your muscles to power your workout. "Fifty to sixty percent of energy used during one to four hours of continuous moderate to hard endurance activity is derived from carbohydrates," says Mangieri.
3.) Should I use Sports Drinks, Gels, etc.?
It is important to replace fluids you lose working out and to consume carbohydrates to help maintain blood glucose levels for your workouts. It is not necessary to take these “sports” supplements because you can get the same benefits from natural sources. “Sports” drinks and gels are good for those who have a tough time digesting solid food in the middle of a long workout over an hour.
4.) Should I not eat anything before I work out?
" Eating before exercise, as opposed to [exercising in] the fasted state, has been shown to improve exercise performance," says Mangieri. It is important to eat in the morning to replenish liver glycogen and steadies blood sugar level. Eat a little something before you work out and make sure you are hydrated before too.
5.) I can eat whatever I want because I will work it off.”
It is important to watch your caloric intake and give your body nutritious food to properly fuel your workouts. Consuming too many calories on a regular basis can creep up on you. Even if you don’t gain any weight eating bad food (like an all cookie diet) it will not help your health no matter how you try to justify it.
6.) Should I use chocolate milk as a “recovery drink”?
Chocolate milk has a good mix of carbohydrates and protein so it is good for recovery. There are other options to help your body recover after workouts. A good mix of carbohydrates and protein is best for recovery.