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Eat Like an Olympian to Lose Weight

londonolympics
photo by Peter Burgess via Flickr.com Creative Commons

The 2012 Summer Olympics are here and the amazing feats of speed, strength, and endurance will be on our television sets for weeks to come. Along with gold-winning performances are the endless discussions of the athletes’ training programs and nutrition strategies. While you may think these athletes can eat whatever and whenever they want, it is actually much more thought out than that. These athletes know the value of eating for performance and consuming high-quality nutritious foods. For optimal olympic performance, optimal fuel must be consumed!

So how will eating like an Olympian help you lose weight? Now, I’m not talking about eating the 8000+ calorie training diet consumed by 14-time Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps. I’m referring to fueling your fitness activities with the right foods and planning your diet as carefully as you plan your workouts. Eating like an Olympian requires you to stay in ‘action’ mode with your diet, not ‘reaction’ mode. Intense training requires a well thought out nutrition strategy. Pre-workout and post-workout calories must be carefully selected to optimize performance and expedite recovery. You may not be training like an Olympian, but if you are trying to lose weight, your diet should be as well-planned as your workouts.

Planning your workouts is the easy part: you go to the gym at the same time each day, you attend scheduled fitness classes, or you know your trainer is waiting on you so you better show up on time! Once you complete your workout, you really don’t put much thought into doing it again until the next day. Proper nutrition is a whole different story. You have to think about your diet many times per day, every day! Next time you are packing your gym bag, think about what your body will need for your workout and take a few extra minutes to pack some pre- and post-workout snacks in a small cooler. If you eat the right foods, you will not only have a better workout and decrease recovery time, but you can also eliminate post-workout binges and keep your body burning fat long after the workout is over! While accurate pre- and post-workout nutrition is as unique as you are, here are some simple guidelines to help you have a better workout and maximize your weight-loss efforts:

    • Try adding a small serving of fruit or a whole-grain carbohydrate, like a slice of whole-wheat toast, before hitting the gym for that circuit class or weight-training session with your trainer. Your body needs carbohydrates to fuel these types of activities. You must have some fuel in your tank to perform optimally in the gym!
    • After your workout, try to consume a small snack that has both carbohydrates and protein. Your body needs both carbs and protein after most types of workouts. If you fail to give your body what it needs, metabolic rates and recovery efforts may be compromised. By simply having a small balanced snack, like a cup of low-fat yogurt (go Greek since we are talking about the Olympics) and a piece of fruit, for example, you not only give your body what it needs to recover from that grueling workout, you also reduce your changes for exercise-induced hunger later in the day that may lead to eating way more calories than you burned in the gym!

Don’t have the mindset that you burned calories in the gym so you don’t want to eat before or after your workout. If you don’t give your body the nutrients and calories it needs, your best workout efforts may be wasted and you won’t perform optimally in the gym. A little calories before your workout and the right balance of nutrients after will ensure gold medal results!

If you would like to know more about customizing your pre- and post-workout nutrition to fit your goals, please contact me at: roger@eatrightfitness.com

eat right. be fit. live well.

-Dr. A

 

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