By The Editors
Powering your workouts involves more than just eating before and after.Your entire day of food should focus on preparing for and recovering from exercise. Reduce your calorie consumption on days you don't work out, and increase it on the days you do.
THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO AFTER EXERCISE IS NOT FEED YOUR BODY.
Eat more protein. Depending on your goals, you should be getting as much as 0.9 grams of protein per day per pound of body weight. If you're looking to maintain or lose weight, scale back your calories, not your protein. Otherwise, you can lose muscle mass. (The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that the average active adult consume between 0.55 and 0.8 grams per pound per day.)
Eat more carbs, too. They burn more quickly than protein, and they give you something important for exercise: energy. Carbs are necessary to fill glycogen supplies within the muscle, which, especially in high-intensity efforts, like the program suggested in these pages, your body uses as a main source of energy. Just make sure you're eating wholesome complex carbs, like quinoa or beans. A sugary drink or snack will initially feel as if it's working, providing you an energy boost, but it will fade quickly.
Eat a lot of fruit. It's loaded with dietary fiber. Keeps you regular. Which is good for you and your digestive health.
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YOU CAN GET PROTEIN FROM A LOT MORE THAN MEAT.
There's protein in vegetables. Protein in legumes. In brown rice, quinoa, nuts, peas, broccoli. It doesn't have to be just skinless chicken breasts.
Stop cooking vegetables. Generally speaking, they have the most nutritional value when raw. They taste pretty good, too.
STOP DRINKING MILK.
Dairy cows from nonorganic farms can be pumped full of synthetic hormones that you may not want in your body. Plus, approximately 65 percent of people have trouble digesting lactose (the sugar in milk) after infancy. Instead, try almond, oat, or rice milk, which have fewer possible complications.
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STOP EATING WHEAT.
Even if you don't have celiac disease, many people have some degree of gluten intolerance. That may not sound like a problem, but it can lead to intestinal distress.
While we're taking away delicious things, cut out sugar, too. But you knew this.
A NOTE: EATING A CANDY BAR IS FINE
Just have some cashews first. A few things you should know about calories, from Dr. J. Matthew Andry
About that candy: Obviously you are better off not eating a candy bar than eating one. But who wants to live like that? Before eating anything, realize that not all calories are the same. Carbs are quick fuel; your body can pretty much absorb them immediately. Proteins, on the other hand, take work. The effort it takes your body just to process those calories burns up to 30 percent of them (as opposed to 5 to 10 percent of carbs). So 1,000 calories of pasta equals around 920 calories in your system. But 1,000 calories of chicken is, effectively, as little as 700 calories. Basically, eating protein is exercise.
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When you eat carbs, they're converted to glucose, causing an insulin release. Insulin regulates glucose, but it also signals the body to store fat when there's more glucose than it needs. Fewer insulin spikes and your body burns calories more effectively and consistently, giving you a steadier supply of energy. Switching to complex carbs helps, as does consuming more fiber (found in vegetables, whole grains, etc.) since fiber slows down the speed at which your body processes carbs. This doesn't mean you can negate the effects of a candy bar by drinking a cup of Metamucil or eat a bag of Oreos as long as you follow it with kale, but it does help.