Fuel for Performance
Fueling your body for athletic performance requires some planning and willingness to eat things that may not always be whole foods and ‘healthy’. With fueling for performance comes nutrient timing. For example pre activity you are going to want to have carbs and proteins with little to no fat within an hour of said activity. This will allow your body to use the energy sources quickly and efficiently. Fats take your body longer to use and longer to digest and thus will not be readily available if eaten in too close to activity. Using myself as an example, I will have 1 cup of fat free greek yogurt and typically 1 serving of a cereal of my choice mixed into the yogurt(I like cheerios of any variety personally) about 1 hour before I head to my workout that day. That will typically give me around 46grams of carbs, 1.5grams of fats, and 23-26grams of protein depending on the brand of yogurt. You want to try to have a 2:1 carbs to protein ratio in your pre-workout meal with little to no fat present. This will allow for you to enter the workout not feeling hungry and give your body the fuel it needs to perform. Post workout you are going to want to have another high carb, low/no fat, and moderate protein meal. I like to have a shake if I am crunched for time that is about 2:1 carbs to protein ratio once again here. When I have more time I will have a quick snack that has that 2:1 ratio. You want to minimize the fat you are eating post workout for the same reasons as pre-workout. Fats take longer to get utilized in the body and will slow your bodies intake of the carbs, which can hinder muscle recovery. Your muscles need the carbs to get to them quickly because when you workout glycogen is used up and you need to replenish those levels. Glycogen is just a big glucose molecule, and carbs are broken down by the body into glucose, so you need carbs so your body can make the glucose and glycogen again and get your muscles recovered and ready to perform the next time you plan to workout.
So when you are fueling your body for performance, and you are tracking your macros it is best to plan ahead what you pre and post workout meals look like before you start planning your other meals so you can be sure you hit your numbers and get the proper amount of fuel for before and after working out. Something I like to do when planning my meals is plan what I am eating before I go workout, what I am eating after I workout, what I will have for dinner and dessert and then I will plan my breakfast. Once those things are planned out I will see if I have any carbs, fats and proteins left over and will either add some food to my breakfast or my dinner depending on my mood or I will just put them towards a snack in the day. I try to save more fat for dinner time so I am feeling fuller when I am going to bed and get a good amount of fat in at breakfast if I know it will be a while before I get a chance to eat again. I really love peanut butter, so I usually try to work a serving of it in somewhere everyday which takes care of a good amount of fats.
If you are trying to eat a more whole food diet and less processed things, it can be hard to track macros and fuel your body for performance, but it isn’t impossible. You will just have to look for things that you enjoy eating, and will still provide you with the proper ratios pre and post workout, and not leave you feeling super hungry as you enter into the workouts. Personally I am trying to eat more whole foods and less processed things, but performance is my top priority right now so I have to make exceptions. I will eat gummy bears if I have a lot of carbs left over and I will have cereal in my yogurt because I know it will give me the fuel I need to meet my performance needs.
Thank you for reading, hopefully that helped y’all out. Sometimes I feel like I have so much to share, but don’t want these posts to be super long and bore anyone so I try to share as much as I can in a reasonable amount of words. Please comment if there is more you want me to touch on or if you want me to write about something else. Thanks again!