We all know the adage, “New Year, New Me,” but by this time each year, most people have given up on their resolutions. The adage turns into “New Year, Same Me,” but that doesn’t have to be the case this year. One of the most common resolutions people make is to lose weight and look the best they have ever had.
With gym memberships on the rise at the beginning of each year, one common question Long Islanders have is, “I’ve been going to the gym and trying to eat well, but I’m still not seeing results, what am I doing wrong?”
While they may indeed be exercising for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, they may not be seeing results because of the types of foods they are consuming before and after exercise. People who think results come by dieting alone, or exercising alone, are setting themselves up for short-term success and long-term failure.
In order to see lasting results from exercise, people need to be conscious of what they eat before and after workouts in order to maximize their efforts.
According to nutritionist Sofia Gourlides, “The best way to efficiently fuel your exercise is to consume pre- and post-workout meals in the appropriate carbohydrate to protein ratio.” Before a workout, it is important to consume more carbohydrates than protein and the opposite is true after exercise. Gourlides is a public health nutritionist with the state department of health, with additional experience in sports nutrition.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is exercising on an empty stomach. The body needs fuel that will provide lasting energy. Before a workout, aim to eat foods rich in carbohydrates, which are the best source of fuel for the body and provide enough energy to get you through any workout. Gourlides also recommends eating a meal/snack that is low in fat and fiber to ensure optimal digestion. These include: whole grain bread with almond butter, oats with fruit, bananas, yogurt, and brown rice with black beans.
After eating, give yourself 45-60 minutes to ensure appropriate digestion and avoid feeling nauseous during exercise. During the workout make sure to stay adequately hydrated with water and sports drinks to replenish lost electrolytes.
After feeling the burn, aim to eat foods rich in protein. Gourlides emphasizes the importance of protein rich meals, as they help repair and build-up muscle fibers. Sources include: protein shakes with a mix of almond milk and fruits, grilled chicken with mixed vegetables, quinoa with grilled salmon and vegetables, apples with almond butter and Greek yogurt.
Aim to consume protein within an hour of exercise to ensure maximum muscle repair and decrease muscle aches and soreness. What you consume before and after a workout is just as important as the exercise you do. Don’t work harder, work smarter and start seeing the results you’ve been dreaming of.
Katherine Alexis Athanasiou is a physician assistant student (PA-S).