By Joshua Smith
Now that y’all have spent the last few months stair- climbing and bench pressing your collective lives away, you should be pretty close to reaching your fitness goals, right?
Although you’ve got the right balance of weights and cardio, and you’re working out at least a few times a week, you still can’t bench that extra plate and that giggle is still very much a part of your wiggle. You’re forgettingÂ something–Ânutrition!
Luckily, the Gauntlet was able to meet with nutrition guru Colleen Parsons-Olsson, Associate Director of Fitness and Lifestyle Centre and Programs, to compile a basic guide to help you swim through the muddied waters of today’s nutritional info.
These tips will help you feel better before, during and after your workout. They will also help you achieve your fitness goals quicker and safer, while maintaining the results of all that hard work you put in at the gym every week.
Before and during a workout
Pre-workout meals, up to an hour before your workout, should include a balance of at least two different food groups–try a muffin and yogurt. Also, avoid sugary foods like chocolate bars and candy that will cause a sharp increase in your blood sugar as well as a sharp drop in energy levels just as you begin your workout. A small amount of carbs, like fruit or a bagel, is a good idea to maintain your body’s energy systems for the workout. A sport drink powder mixed in with your water while you workout will also help maintain your energy levels.
After a workout
According to Parsons-Olsson, this is the “magic bullet” that can make or break your fitness regime.
Carbohydrates combined with rehydration drinks up to a half hour after your workout will act like a miraculous little Tony Robbins for your recovering muscles, initiating the repair process, and translating into less fatigue and soreness the next day. Anything after about 30 minutes will not have the same, if any, effect.
So get gnawing on a PowerBar on your way past those creepy guys in Baron’s Court to the change rooms, it’ll allow you to maintain and even improve what you do in the gym the next day.
De-bunk those diets
More often than not, niche diets and flashy nutritional programs combine slim to no actual scientific research with just the right amount of marketability, promising instant results and/or weight loss. The truth is, most require a complete overhaul of your already existing eating patterns and can be extremely hard to maintain. They may even be dangerous to your health.
Basic gist: Little or no carbs and lots of protein and fats lead to weight loss and less fat. Carbohydrates provide the body and brain with energy, unused carbs are stored as fat which makes us fluffier than we like. If we reduce carbs, replacing them with proteins, then our bodies will substitute excess carbs with the burning of excess fat.
De-bunk: extremely fast weight loss results are due to lack of water stored in the body by carbohydrates, which means as soon as you have that piece of chocolate cake, those carbs will latch on to much needed water and the weight will be back on again. Also, the body does not automatically use up excess fats, instead it uses the excess protein in your diet as fuel for your mind and muscles.
Basic gist: same as Atkins, but less extreme.
De-bunk: The Zone uses the same high protein, low carb ideas as Atkins but not to extreme levels. Results, both negative and positive, are the same. The Zone is more balanced than the Atkins diet, recommending a 40-30-30 split of protein, carbs and fat, but is very hard to realistically maintain. It requires massive reconfiguration of day-to-day eating and most people cannot stick to it for very long. The Canada Food Guide suggests a 50-55, 15-20, <30 split more suitable to most people’s existing diets.
Basic gist: eat foods in certain combinations and they will digest better, or eat certain foods because you are a specific blood type.
De-bunk: although everybody is different and we all have foods that disagree with us, once food reaches the acids in your stomach, your body uses it as energy and can’t tell whether you waited 15 minutes to eat your steak after your potatoes or if you waited 15 seconds.
Eat a balance of different food groups and adapt your food intake to suit your tastes and your lifestyle, not your blood type.
Avoid revamping your entire diet. Don’t switch to that all bean-sprout diet you saw advertised on the back of a magazine so you can lose 100 pounds. Take baby steps when changing your nutritional practices.
You can start by keeping track of what you eat for three days and looking at the holes and surpluses in your diet. Then change one thing. Perhaps you’ll eat less pizza and more broccoli or vise versa, but remember to take it slow and be realistic in your decisions.
Remember, providing your body with the right amount and the right types of fuel when it needs them most will vastly improve your fitness experience and will do nothing but improve your satisfaction both in the gym and in everyday life.
With labels that read like high school chemistry class, supplements are all the rage as people seek to increase their performance and progress in the gym. However, not everything has been proven to produce results, despite what your tie-dyed Gator’s gym gear wearin’ friend might say.
We asked Parsons-Olsson about three common supplements being used today, who should use them, what they are, and why someone would take them.
Protein (eg. Whey, Prolab)
• Used if someone is not getting enough protein in their diet.
• Crucial to the repairing of muscle tissue.
• Too much protein can cause kidneys to “spill” ammonia into the body, increasing likelihood of developing ketosis.
• Drink a lot of water if you are going to use protein supplements.
• Naturally produced in the body, more creatine increases the energy cells can produce.
• Allows you to do more sets because you’ll have more energy.
• Good for high intensity, low duration workouts.
• Relatively new, no real evidence of its effectiveness.
• Stimulates cartilage re-development, good for sore joints and arthritis.
• Used by seniors and 40+, proven to have positive results.
• Glucosamine is often combined with shark cartilage as an added motivator for consumers, but shark cartilage is only good for one thing—sharks!