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What Your Body is Craving Before and After Your Workout

What Your Body is Craving Before and After Your Workout
Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

Working out is hard work, and not just physically! There are specific nutrients and minerals your body needs in order to power through your workout and recover from it. Here’s what you need to know in order to give your body what it’s craving before and after a workout.

Your New Pre-Workout Routine

What you eat before a workout is just as important as the workout itself. Your car can’t run without fuel, and the same goes for your body. Sometimes, when you don’t nourish your body before a workout, you are actually putting it into over-drive. This may cause headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness and nausea. In order to make sure your body has what it needs, feed it the right foods.

Carbohydrates are what your body needs in order to create energy. Carbs are broken down into glucose in order to enter into our cells and give us the fuel we need to exercise at our maximum capacity. Simple carbs like those found in granola bars (beware of sugar!), a piece of fruit, oatmeal and yogurt are digested fast and provide quick energy. Foods like eggs and nuts can provide you with protein, especially for workouts like weight or strength training.

Arguably most important, be sure to drink water in preparation for your workout. As our body temperature rises, a reaction occurs in the body as a defense mechanism, called sweating. Sweating occurs when the body is trying to cool itself down. The problem with this excess fluid loss is it can affect our normal bodily functions. Excessive loss of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium or phosphorus can lead to muscle cramps, weakness, fatigue, dehydration, elevated internal temperature, and in severe cases even organ damage. Drink up!

The Importance of Hydration During Your Workout

In order to replenish your electrolytes, it is advisable to replace and restore your minerals. A wonderful way to do this is by taking in the right blend of minerals. First, consider the important role that both magnesium and potassium play in maintaining pH balance in the body. According to Director of Nutrition from InVite® Health, Amanda Williams, MPH, MD, “If your electrolytes become imbalanced – called dehydration – this can make us more acidic. We can offset this negative effect by adding in the alkaline minerals such as potassium and magnesium. As the temperature inside of our bodies goes up during a workout, the muscles release lactic acid and can make us feel weak, fatigued, and muscles can even cramp up or spasm. This is important to recognize because we have to fend this off as to not do damage to the body.”

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The body can also benefit from amino acid replacement. “Take beta alanine for example; this amino acid plays a critical role in buffering acidity in the body. A good workout can generate extra lactic acid from the muscles and throw the body’s pH levels off, thus making us more acidic. To target this issue, beta alanine is a very good option,” explains Williams.

Your New Post-Workout Routine

It is important to eat the right foods after a workout simply because you must replace the calories you used up. When you don’t eat after a workout, you may begin to feel fatigued and may even have low blood sugar. You could also be hindering your body’s repair process, impacting your fitness goals.

Turn to carbs and protein (yes, again!) to refuel. Complex carbohydrates are the best option, as you do not need your body to break them down as you did before your workout. Complex carbs include quinoa, brown rice, and nuts. Protein is especially important. For individuals turning to weight or strength training, you may require a bit more protein in order to maintain muscle, like those found in beans and fish.

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After we exercise, it is common to feel sore due to the effects of exercise on our muscles, which develop tiny tears that heal to build muscle. Proper recovery post-workout allows us to have better and more frequent workouts, limiting our risk of soft tissue injury.

“L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. This acid becomes essential during times of extreme stress, like after heavy exercise, where it supplies fuel (nitrogen and carbon) to the cells and tissues. Creatine Monohydrate is another amino acid that supplies energy to the cells. It has been shown to provide support for endurance, recovery, hydration and performance,” explains Amanda Williams.

While exercising is one of of the best things you can give your body, you have to be sure to provide it with the nutrients it needs to keep moving.

Questions about your workout routine? Having trouble understanding electrolytes, amino acids and other nutrients? Leave a comment to join the conversation!

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