Food Tips for Active Living

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If your New Year’s resolution is to start exercising to get back into shape, it’s going to take more than just that.  The key is properly fueling your body.

In a recent interview with registered dietitian and fitness enthusiast Carrie Walder, she offered some healthy food choices for those willing to take good health to the next level.

Walder began, “Before a workout, you want to have a source of easily digested carbohydrates – ones that won’t make you feel heavy or cause GI discomfort during your workout. Carbs are the best source of fuel for optimal performance and it’s advised to eat them about 1-3 hours pre-workout.”

She adds, “You’ll also want to get in some protein at this time, although that becomes more important post-workout.

Some examples of pre-workout fuel include a banana or piece of toast with peanut butter, oatmeal, a roasted sweet potato, or a handful of homemade trail mix (dried fruit and nuts).

Walder says, “Post workout, your body needs carbohydrates and protein to rebuild and repair your muscles. Please don’t skip meals after a workout – this can actually make it harder for you to reach your fitness goals. Some snack ideas include plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit, a smoothie with a protein source (like Greek yogurt, nut butter, or hemp seeds), or a couple hard-boiled eggs and whole wheat toast. Also – don’t forget to hydrate!”

Drinking enough water essentially helps you stay hydrated and improves performance.

Walder recommends, “The amount of water we need depends on our age, gender, and level of physical activity. While we may need more fluids in very hot weather, we still need to be drinking enough when it’s cold out. On average, women will need about 9 cups a day, while men will need (about) 12 cups – but we are all different! One of the best ways to know if you’re drinking enough is to check the color of your urine – it should be light yellow or clear. If dark with a strong smell, or if you’re not going very often, you likely need to have more fluids.”

Exercising on a regular basis takes commitment and can be challenging to fit with work and family responsibilities.

To keep your nutrition up, Walder suggests, “If you’re always on the go, I advise packing an easy snack that also balances a fibre-rich carb with protein and/or fat. For instance, pair apple slices with a peanut butter packet, raw carrots with hummus, or a banana and a plain Greek yogurt cup.”

“I always recommend creating meals and snacks that incorporate a balance of protein, healthy fat, fibre, and greens. Including these key nutrients in your meals will help keep your blood sugars stable, providing steady energy levels throughout the day.

Batch cooking on the weekends, where you prepare longer-to-cook ingredients, can help you throw together meals quickly throughout the week while applying the above principle.

For instance, I often tell my clients to prepare a starch, such as a batch of whole grains or roasted sweet potatoes, a couple roasted non-starchy vegetables like roasted broccoli or cauliflower, and then a couple protein sources like baked salmon and hard-boiled eggs. Throughout the week you can easily mix and match these items with fresh greens, avocado, nuts and seeds to make quick and healthy meals!”

On having breakfast, Walder says, “It has been linked to maintaining a healthy weight, improved appetite control, higher diet quality, improved concentration, and better health overall. It’s important to note that everyone is different and some people are truly not hungry in the morning. Always listen to your body; if you’re not hungry, don’t force yourself, but if you are hungry, don’t restrict yourself in order to lose weight or cut calories (as) this will often end up hurting you in the long run. I think more important than breakfast timing, is what you actually eat for breakfast. Avoid sugary cereals or breakfast muffins; instead, have balanced and nutrient-dense meals.  Great options are whole grain toast with nut butter, steel cut oats with berries and nuts, or a veggie scramble.”

Walder suggests eating with the seasons and to incorporate ingredients such as winter squash, pumpkin, kale, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, apples and pears.

Walder enjoys roasting vegetables, making warming soups, or sautéing apples or pears and having it over oatmeal for a comforting breakfast.  

Bon appetit!

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