Experts agree that your body needs around 48 hours of rest between workouts; this is a great opportunity to nourish it with great-tasting, healthy food that will motivate you to work even harder next time. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of eating "treat" foods like ice cream or cookies after exercise, but what your body really needs are nutrients to replenish what’s been used, strengthen and repair your muscles, and restore your energy levels. Make life easier by prepping at the weekend or on your days off so that you’ve always got tasty, nutritious food to hand.
Protein that Packs a Punch
Protein contains the amino acids which our muscles need in order to rebuild after exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine advocates an intake of 1.2-1.4g protein per kg body weight per day in order to increase muscle repair and synthesis. Chickpeas, tofu and lentils are all great sources of protein; why not whizz up a batch of delicious black bean dip for a protein-packed snack you can have any time? For a creative approach to cooking, you should consider switching to a cooker with a broiler setting; not only does the American Heart Association recommend broiling over frying as a healthy cooking method, but broiling veg such as sweet peppers gives them delicious caramelized edges.
If you’re looking to boost your energy levels, bananas, chia seeds or goji berries are great snack options. Even better, use your batch cooking time to prepare meals using sweet potato, lentils or brown rice, which are great for keeping you feeling full and ready to go. Scientists have also found that eating non starchy, low glycemic, vegetables and fruits such as apples, pears and green leafy veg can prevent blood sugar spikes. These can increase hunger and cause you to overeat between workouts; defeating the point of your efforts.
As the saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet. All that hard work in the gym or on the track needs to be matched with great tasting, healthy food. Look for proteins to help your muscles repair, and energy boosting fruit and vegetables so that your body feels alert and ready to go again. Browse the recipes here for inspiration and get ahead of the game with some advance meal prepping; work harder and smarter.
-- Jennifer Glendale