Just like many of you, I want to live a healthier life but I struggle to find a routine or diet to stick to. However, I live quite an active life, so for the time being I don’t concern myself with how much I weigh as long as I still fit in my favourite jeans that I bought five years ago. But yes, I know that this might not be the best standard to live by. However, most diets tell you what you can or cannot eat and that is just not how I want to live my life. I simply detest the word ‘diet’ by the way, but I do realise that living a healthier life will mean some sacrifice. So when I read something about getting the most out of a workout and what foods to eat before or after, I was intrigued. As I said, I don’t need or want to lose weight, but it might be good to make some small changes when it comes to my eating habits if that means maximizing workout results without much effort.
I do ballet and I go running from time to time and though my outfits are always thoroughly planned – e.g. grey and pastel green workout clothes to match my trainers – I still lack the motivation to make sure that my body actually benefits from the exercise. So when I finally did some research on when and what you should eat if you really want to make a workout worth the effort – or, as the pros like to call it, nutrient timing – I was quite surprised by what I learned. Best of all, I wasn’t even going to have to make any big changes!
But first, coffee! You couldn’t believe my excitement when I found out that I wasn’t going to have to give up my daily morning coffee. Just like a car, fuelling your body is important. But before you all start cheering, I’m not talking about your usual Large Soy Caramel Macchiato that you get from the coffee shop across the road. Your new best friend will have to become black coffee. Starting your day with a small cup will improve your stamina and reduce muscle pain. By the way, this will save you money which you can spend on that cute yoga top that you’ve had your eyes on for forever.
Instead of breakfast cereal, why don’t you try oats? You can pretty much do anything with them and they are a great source of fibre. One of the basic rules of exercising is to never do it on an empty stomach and thanks to oats you also won’t run out of energy during your workout.
Most people think oats are boring and flavourless, but add some fruit, greek yoghurt or even a tablespoon of honey or peanut butter and soon you’ll never want anything else for breakfast. By the way, the reason I mentioned greek yoghurt is because compared to regular yoghurt it has double the protein and only half the carbs.
Oats are also a great ingredient for making energy balls. These are usually very easy to prepare (no baking!) and if you make them in advance you can just quickly eat one or two before your morning run. You can now find them in most grocery shops as well, but where’s the fun in that? This is a great recipe for you to try at home.
Before: Wholewheat Pasta
Obviously you won’t have this for breakfast but if you prefer running in the afternoon or evening, then you should definitely consider having wholewheat pasta for lunch or dinner. Wholewheat pasta contains carbohydrates and fibre which suppress your hungry feeling. It’s one of the easiest swaps you can make in your food cupboard and trust me, your body will thank you for it!
I always crave fruit juice or a smoothie after a workout. Of course any chilled drink can do the trick, but for me the sweetness of it is just so satisfying. So this will be the greatest challenge for me: start drinking green smoothies. These are a lot healthier than just fruit smoothies because of the antioxidants and increased fibre intake. There has also been a lot of debate about whether fruit smoothies are good or not. For example, by drinking a smoothie you consume a lot more fruit than you would actually eating them, so what everyone should definitely know is that in a fruit smoothie you get all (and quite possibly too much) of the calories and sugars from the fruit that is in it, but not necessarily all the fibre. Apart from the vitamins that are definitely good for you, you might as well drink a soda.
But back to the green smoothies now, because most of the time these are 100 percent healthy. On top of the already mentioned health benefits, they give you a clearer skin, are easily digested and increase your energy levels. Even though I’m a little bit put of by the kale or spinach smoothies, I will definitely try one next time I go running. Keeping in mind all the health benefits, I might even end up liking them.
Make sure to come back next week to find out which foods will help your body recover after a workout!