This month, we’re focusing on recipes and nutrition tips to fuel your physical activity.
Food provides energy for body function and physical activity. Your energy and food intake needs can change in relation to your activity levels. Balance and variety of protein, carbohydrates, fat and water will provide you with the nutrients required for optimal performance and nutrient replenishment.
Weeks 1 and 2: Hydration
To keep your body hydrated, aim for a daily fluid intake of about 2-3 litres (9-12 cups); your intake will vary depending on your body size and activity level. When you are more active or if the weather is hot, you will need to increase your intake. Water is one of the best fluid choices and you should also use your thirst as a guide to help you determine fluid requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) as “any liquids that are sweetened with various forms of added sugars”. Some examples include fruit, sports and energy drinks, sweetened waters, and coffee and tea beverages with added sugars. SSBs provide no additional nutritional benefit and contain “hidden” calories . If you choose to have SSBs once in a while, that is okay. But water is a better choice of hydration.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you stay hydrated:
- Check out the Dietitians of Canada’s recommendations on sports hydration, including steps to stay hydrated during and after exercise.
- See Eating Well’s seven refreshing foods to help you stay hydrated.
- If you need to boost your water intake, here are 12 easy ways to drink more water from Self magazine.
- Find out what’s in your drink with this rethink your drink article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Read this news release from the Canadian Paediatric Society and Dietitians of Canada, which advises against kids and adolescents consuming sports and energy drinks.
Week 3: Snacks
Having a small meal or snack about one to two hours before you exercise can help stabilize blood glucose levels and keep you hydrated and energized. It can also help you perform for longer and with more intensity . You’ll likely focus less on a rumbling tummy and more on your activity or workout!
If you are exercising for more than a couple of hours, make sure to fuel up halfway with fluids, a carbohydrate and protein-rich snack or small meal.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you fuel up before exercising:
- The Dietitians of Canada encourage learning how to plan pre-exercise meals and snacks.
- Try these simple snack combinations and adjust the amount based on the length of your activity: whole fruit with nuts or nut butter, vegetables and hummus or other bean/veggie dip, cheese and crackers, or plain yogurt with berries and granola.
- Simple Banana Berry Smoothie from Cookspiration
- Breakfast Burrito from Cookspiration
- Colourful Quinoa Salad from Cookspiration
Week 4: Recovery
Post-exercise healthy eating is important because it replaces the energy, fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates that were used up during your workout. Protein is essential in building and maintaining muscle and supporting muscle recovery after exercise. It’s best to get these nutrients from foods rather than sports drinks, sports foods, and supplementation (i.e. protein supplements) — unless you are an athlete, in which case it’s best to seek advice from a registered dietitian.
Here are some tips and recipes to help you satisfy your hunger and nutritional needs after exercise:
- The Dietitians of Canada offer steps you can take to recover after exercise.
- Ginger Granola & Pineapple Cottage Cheese from Cookspiration
- Greek-style Chicken Sandwiches from Cookspiration
- Green Lentil Power Smoothie from Cookspiration
- Check out the Dietitians of Canada’s facts on sport supplements.