Perfect Nutrition Plan for Recreational Athletes
Recreational athletes enjoy both practising and competing in various sports because it is fun and exciting. Along with this, being a recreational athlete often means that the sports you practice are more of a hobby that coincides with your busy schedule throughout the week and this often hectic schedule can bring along some poor dietary choices. After all, grabbing some fast food because you are exhausted after a long day at work and strenuous straining for your big arms, might seem very tempting. However, it’s always important to remember that proper nutrition is essential not only to keep you in great shape but also to give you the energy that you need to excel on those “game days.” Here are some important nutrition tips you have to keep in mind, in order to improve your athletic performance as you balance your crazy schedule.
Nutrition Before a Workout
Although many athletes feel as they can wake up and begin their workouts without the proper nutrition, this is proved to be a bad and unhealthy habit. While many athletes will debate the benefits of fasted training, the truth is that your body needs the proper nutrients before you begin training to ensure that fatigue doesn’t set in, and you don’t get hungry while working out. Eating before working out gives you extra energy that can help you get that extra rep in the gym or squeeze a second or two off of your sprint timing.
So how much time should pass between eating and training? Generally you’ll want to eat larger meals between three and four hours before your workouts. It is essential to let your body digest everything you’ve consumed, so you don’t get sick during your workout. A larger snack can be eaten between one and two hours before training. Obviously the smaller the meal, less time you’ll have to wait between eating and exercising.
- Large Meal Example – Bowl of rice with vegetables
Rice not only helps to stabilize blood sugar but is slow digesting, which means that it will provide your body with energy for the whole day.
- Large Snack Example – Turkey Burger with a whole wheat bun and a side salad
Turkey burgers are great before a workout because they are much leaner than beef and are packed with protein. The whole wheat bun is perfect for your dose of pre-workout carbs, and the side salad is packed with other essential nutrients.
- Small Snack Example – Yogurt or Some Fruit
Yogurt is a great snack to consume pre-workout because you can eat it quickly if you don’t have much time. A serving of fruit works out great, as well. Try to go for a snack like a banana as it is a full of carbohydrates that digest easily and contains a large amount of potassium. During a hard workout, your potassium levels will typically drop quite low, and potassium is needed to keep your muscles functioning properly. Low levels of potassium during a workout can lead to fatigue and cramping.
It is just as imperative that you consume a proper meal post-workout in order to help your body recover properly. To aid in the recovery process, your glycogen stores must be replenished, so it is recommended that you consume a meal high in post protein and carbohydrates. While carbs are necessary, it is vital that you do not go overboard here. With any type of exercise that you do with enough intensity, your insulin levels will be raised significantly. This means that following your workout you won’t need as many carbs as you before you started the workout to aid your muscles in recovery. Too many carbs end up being stored as fat instead of muscle tissue. So what are some great ideas for post-workout meals?
- Large Post-Workout Meal – Chicken Stir-Fry
Chicken Stir-Fry is an excellent choice for a post-workout meal because of the lean protein dose while the rice takes care of your carb intake. Although brown rice is typically the recommended option for other meals, white rice should be consumed post-workout as it is higher on the glycemic index (GI) scale. This helps the glucose to get to your muscle tissue much faster, and the added veggies are perfect for essential nutrients like niacin.
- Small Post-Workout Snack – Cereal
Can cereal really be all that healthy after a tough workout? Before you go and reach for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, remember that you need to consume the healthier types of cereal that isn’t loaded with tons of sugar. Consider consuming some whole-grain cereal with a few cups of skim milk. The cereal will be packed with carbs, vitamins, and minerals that aid in the muscle recovery process while skimmed milk is an excellent source of protein without any fat.