The past few months have blown my mind, literally. Becoming a very proud NewBalance ambassador as of April this year has driven my (basically obsessed) passion for training and 'wellness' to a whole new level!... not only do I have another excuse to wear badass training kit all day but I’ve also felt inspired to push my own physical and mental boundaries, overcoming fears and fully understanding the power of the mind. I’m feeling very grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with NewBalance at such an exciting time.
Now, I've always been a foodie but certainly not always a healthy one, over recent years my understanding of what's good for my body and what is basically poisoning us has been flipped upside down, it's so important to listen to your body and understand what the right nutrition can do for your health. Ever since I began specialising in athlete performance, experimenting (playing) with food to find the best resources to fuel and heal the body has proved vital in helping my clients reach the highest levels. Now I get to share this with you hoping it helps you make sense of all the confusing information out there.
I've recently shared some of my essential training tips and insight into our Strength Temple philosophy via the Men's Health Runner's Strength Training Plan. Just in case you missed that, here’s the link:
However, the purpose of this article is to explain some of my habits around nutrition as well as some Strength Temple #NutritionPillar foundation principles.
Being the competitive person that I am, I’ve always wanted to be one step ahead of my opponent. It's absolutely true that an extra couple of percent can make all the difference when playing at the top of your game and one of the key areas for attention is how we fuel our body.
I’ve played around with a variety of training styles and nutrition experiments, all in the hope I’d find the perfect combination to give myself the best possible chance to perform better than everyone else. Getting this right has taken some time..
Now a personal trainer and nutrition nerd, I’m able to break it down so you can cut through all the misleading marketing tricks and begin working out what 'real food' you need to fuel your body.
Whether you’re a professional athlete looking to top your PB or just interested in exercise to improve your longevity and overall wellness, nutrition plays a key role in making sure you are getting the most from your training. Getting your fuel right not only increases recovery times, but also can reduce the likelihood of injury as well as making sure you have good energy levels.
What we eat before a workout is important because it prevents the hunger rumbles kicking in and stabilises our blood sugar levels, helping to keep us energised. So, here are my thoughts on how you can best fuel your strength training workout:
- Eat/drink as soon as possible after your session – Various research shows how important it is to replenish our bodies within 10-45 minutes after training. We store this recovery nutrition right after exercise because the enzymes that help our bodies resynthesize glycogen (energy) are super active.
- Get your Carbs in - Carbohydrates are needed to replace the glycogen used in our muscles and the most effective way to reduce the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Reach for higher glycemic carbohydrates with lower fructose content (like bananas, apricots, prunes, kiwis and cherries) and starchy veggies (like sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin and beetroot).
- Hydrate! - Water is necessary to replace the loss of water we experienced through exercise. Our bodies are made up of 70% of water – we need water in order for all of our systems to function properly and keep our skin fresh and healthy.
- Being on the move all day, getting the timing right to stay fuelled up is crucial. If you’re not currently eating a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, experiment by eating one for a few days and monitor your energy levels. By fuelling your body with a combination of high quality carbohydrate and protein-rich foods, I’m pretty sure you’ll notice an improvement in how you feel.
- If you get that craving for a snack in the afternoon (like me every single day) but usually don’t combine a high-quality carbohydrate (an apple or whole grain/Rice crackers) with a protein source (nut butter)...try combining these two food groups and see if it leaves you feeling more energised.
- The type of food you choose is also important for optimising your energy level. When you eat carbs, make the majority of them high quality: whole grains, fruit, starchy vegetables and beans/legumes.
Important (and some very good news if you like to eat!) - Don't skimp on the calories when you strength train, since your muscles need adequate fuel to recover and develop. If you're hungry; eat! Just make sure it's the right stuff - like fruits, veggies, whole grains and of course high quality proteins to replenish and repair.
Low-quality carbs such as white bread, sugar loaded cereals and sweets are more processed, have little or no natural fiber and are packed with so many other harmful ingredients, causing your blood sugar to spike. This provides a burst of energy for a short period of time, then your blood sugar rapidly drops, leaving you feeling zapped of energy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll sometimes sneak in the odd naughty ‘treat’ (because I’m such a rebel), but it’s never a replacement for a mid-day meal or snack. Getting your hands on high-quality carbohydrates are also superior because they have naturally occurring micronutrients, phytochemical (plant chemicals that have disease preventive properties), and fiber. Fiber is important for digestion and helps to maintain a controlled absorption of glucose, keeping you feeling full.
Sleep at least seven to eight hours per night, one of the things you need most for muscle growth, repair and recovery is a good nights sleep. Getting enough zzzzzzz while strength training is so important, don’t neglect it.
Getting it right can take time, it takes dedication, listening to your body and properly fuelling it with water, nutrient dense foods and rest, the results will come I promise.
Stay focused. Trawl The Strength Temple website for motivation and ideas, do your best to stay ahead of the game.
PS - Here's some inspiration for your daily 'foodporn' fix. All our food is super tasty and of course looks amazing. Healthy doesn't have to be boring; far from it - it's easier to make something that looks and tastes amazing when you focus on fresh nutritious colourful ingredients.
Remember! play with your food and have fun!