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Eating Your Way to Optimal Health and Fitness

By Donna Stark

You may have heard that your body is built in the kitchen ... and it's true, because what you eat before and after your workout is just as important as the workout itself.  Sure, you already know that regular exercise improves your sleep, energy, and overall health, but also knowing what to eat is one of the most defining factors in attaining your fitness goals. Choosing the right foods that will fuel your body before exercise and then replenish your body afterward is critical for a successful workout, and is an important step in the process of attaining optimal health and fitness. But it can be so confusing, can't it? Simple carbs, complex carbs, electrolytes, glycogen, protein, amino acids ... so many things to consider, it's like a full-time job just to understand it all and to come up with a solid meal plan!

Eating Your Way to Optimal Health and Fitness

Nutrition and fitness go hand in hand and there really is no way around that, so it's important to know which foods can help you achieve your overall health and fitness goals. Of course you want all of your foods to be nutrient-dense, but even when they are, some foods can benefit you in ways that others don't when you eat them at the right time. Let's take a look at a few examples of some pre-workout energizers and some post-workout recovery specialists.

Pre-workout - Before exercising, you should prepare your body to expend energy. Ideally, you'll want to eat about 30 to 45 minutes before working out. The best choices to make are those that are high in simple carbs and low in fat, sugar, and fiber. Some easy ideas are:

  • Oatmeal and berries
  • Unflavored Greek yogurt with almonds and berries
  • Banana with nut butter

Post workout - In order to maximize the benefits of your workout and jump-start the body's recovery process, it's important to consume the right kinds of foods after your fitness session. Ideally, you will want to eat within 30 to 45 minutes after your session has ended because your body needs to replace the energy, fluids, and electrolytes that were used up. The best choices for a post-workout snack or meal are those that blend both complex carbs and protein. Some ideas for this are:

  • Brown rice or whole-wheat pasta
  • Hummus or avocado
  • Fresh fruit such as bananas, oranges, and pineapples
  • Lean proteins such as chicken, salmon, tuna, and tofu

The Building Blocks to Great Health

It's a lot of work, but knowing what to eat before and after working out will certainly impact how successful you are with reaching your goals. So take the time to do the homework, and in the process, don't forget two other things that are critical to your daily fitness routines -- staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest! The combination of quality sleep, proper hydration, and the right diet are the building blocks to any health and fitness plan!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Chino Hills, Calif.

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