Gluten-Free Foods To Boost Your Workout Efforts
BY JANE SANDWOOD
Did you know that there are a number of world-famous athletes such as tennis star Novak Djokovic who attribute some of their success to their gluten-free diets? While it has long been believed that gluten (such as that found in pasta and bread) are needed to fuel the body during exercise, recent research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise indicate that athletes on a gluten-free diet are on par with their pasta and bread eating counterparts. Getting your workout nutrition right is of immense importance to all athletes but might be a bit trickier for those on a GFD as many store-bought protein bars and shakes contain copious amounts of gluten. A few basic guidelines will, however, help you combine a number of simple gluten-free recipes into a workout meal plan with relative ease.
What to eat prior to your workout
Most experts will agree that healthy carbs will boost your workout efforts substantially. Luckily carbs do not equate to gluten – there are a number of gluten-free pre-workout snacks that will fuel your training effectually. Bananas have not been touted as nature’s own energy bar for nothing. Not only are bananas packed with potassium ( as much as 422 mg per fruit) which helps regulate both fluid and electrolytes within the body but they are also considered to be a very good source of gluten-free carbs Greek yogurt with fresh fruit is another excellent gluten-free pre-workout snack. The carbs in the fruits digest fast to fuel your muscles and the protein-packed yogurt will start repairing your muscles as soon as you have completed your workout. Also, you shouldn’t underestimate the benefit of a good quality, gluten-free energy shake that can also help take your workout efforts to the next level.
What about during your workout?
If you are not planning to run a marathon or engage in any other prolonged physical activity you should get through your workout just fine with the nutrients provided by your pre-workout snack. If you do, however, find yourself facing a strenuous day make sure you have a few gluten-free snacks on hands to keep you going till the end. Bananas will once again come in handy as will raisins. These little powerhouses are loaded with iron, potassium, healthy carbs and antioxidants and will provide you with an added energy boost during your workout.
You can also whip up a batch of homemade gluten-free oat cookies that will give you an energy boost when you need it most. Or you can easily whip up no-bake oat cookies by simply mixing together 1 cup natural, unsalted peanut butter with half a cup of pure maple syrup and heating it in the microwave for about 2 minutes (stirring every 30 seconds). Add 2 cups of rolled oats, form into small balls, flatten with a fork and refrigerate for 15 minutes before enjoying.
Post-workout meals are very important
It is pivotal to eat after a workout to replenish the lost nutrients in the body so that muscle repair can commence immediately. Protein is a key component of an effective post-workout meal as it can not only repair the muscles but can also help prevent severe cramping and exhaustion from setting in. Grilled chicken, turkey, salmon and eggs are all very healthy sources of protein and can easily be combined with other nutrient-dense foods such as sweet potato, brown rice, spinach, avocado and salad to make a healthy, ultra-beneficial post-workout meal. Salmon, in particular, has long been touted as one of the best food sources for athletes due to its high content of bioactive peptides that are known to reduce inflammation – something athletes are all too familiar with. Depending on the intensity of your workout it is recommended to eat between 15 minutes and 2 hours after your workout and at least an hour before you go to bed.
Without the correct food to fuel our bodies prior to a workout and aid in repairing them afterward, all our exercising efforts will be all but lost. It is very important to not just eat anything we please while working out as our bodies, similar to a car, can only function optimally with the correct fuel. By following the guidelines above and pairing them with your own personal food preferences you are bound to come up with a winning combination of pre- and post-workout foods that suit your own needs the best.
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