Remember as a child, making certain that you were able to play outside between school and dinner? You didn’t worry about what you ate before and you didn’t focus on rewarding yourself with food afterwards. You just played hard, ate dinner, and went to bed. The good old days, right?
Adulthood might not be quite as simple but the concept should still be the same. For most it looks more like grabbing a quick run before work in the morning, or squeezing in a track workout between work and dinner, or perhaps a fast paced walk around the parking lot while waiting on a child to finish practice or lessons. While working out is good for physical and mental health, often planning meals and snacks to fuel an active lifestyle can add unneeded stress and therefore negate the positive aspects.
For some, it’s overwhelming. You have read the latest research or picked up an article that gives equations on how to calculate exactly the right number of calories and protein in your day. Our society now relies on electronic gadgets to lead us through our day and monitor our every step and bite taken. And honestly, that too can be mind-numbing.
If you are the type that focuses on the numbers, you may notice that exercising often burns fewer calories than we think and “nutrition” products are often high calorie indulgences. For example, you burn about 100 calories for every mile you walk or run. Yet the average energy bar provides 250 calories and a 16 ounce fruit smoothie can easily top 400 calories. Playing the numbers game takes the fun out of working out. Instead, try to shift your focus away from the numbers. They can be a good reference point but so can your body. Go back to enjoying your workout and incorporating a balanced amount of food in your diet throughout the day.
Here are a few tips to help fuel your workout and refuel afterwards:
Concentrate more on hydration. Food should be light (think 100 calories or less) and mainly carbohydrates. Examples include fruits, pretzels, fig bars, energy gels, rice cakes, a small granola bar, or a sports drink.
It’s best to include both carbohydrates and proteins in a ratio of 3:1. This is true whether you are grabbing a snack or ready to eat a meal. If you are unable to eat a meal right away, replenish with an 8 ounce glass of milk, a serving of greek yogurt, or string cheese and crackers.
Meal size should be determined by hunger. Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. You might be satisfied with a hard boiled egg, slice of toast, and a piece of fruit. Or perhaps a tortilla wrap with hummus and veggies.
DON’T REWARD WITH FOOD
Don’t reward your efforts with food. Make sure your exercise and nutrition goals are enjoyable and bring you satisfaction. Try not to frame them like a list of chores.
ENJOY THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL BENEFITS OF “PLAYING” AGAIN.
Feb is the General Manager and Footwear Buyer at Fleet Feet Sports. Most of his decisions are determined by rock, paper, scissors. For more information call (901) 761-0078 or visit our website at fleetfeetmemphis.com.