Working out is a dreaded activity for most of us. Mustering up the courage and strength to even pick up those dumbbells or strap in for 15 minutes on a treadmill can be near impossible. What if I told you that your diet, while good for your health, might not be perfectly attuned to your workout? What you eat specifically matters and you may not be getting everything out of that workout. Doesn’t that just sound awful?

Walter Willette Revised Food Pyramid

Not only are you possibly losing extra shred but that energy you have to attain from the depths of your soul to get off the couch? That can be much more easily attained from a proper diet. You need energy before and after a workout to properly perform.

These foods will vary in just how much you will need by your age, weight, gender and level of current activity. Now here are the “three pillars” to focus on.

  • Carbohydrates: Yay for carbs! These sugars and starches are delicious, filling, and most importantly ready to fill you with energy! Carbs break down in your body and turn into glucose. Your muscles crave glucose and use them for extra energy throughout the day. Your liver can even stockpile on this beautiful substance and release the energy as your body needs it which is key for any workout. Great sources of carbs are whole grain bread and pastas, veggies, fruit and rice.
  • Fat: While it may seem counterproductive your body needs fat. When working out your body feeds off of fat to stay healthy while burning calories. Keep drinking that low calorie milk and any other dairy and you will be just fine.
  • Protein: The most important pillar! Protein should be a major part of every meal. Your body begins to absorb carbs slower when protein is introduced to the mix. This helps to utilize carbs more efficiently and really burn calories while maintaining your energy. Make sure to get a solid 3 ounces or more per meal through eggs, chicken, fish, any meat and even beans.

Try to keep a solid combination of each pillar throughout your day. Meals like eggs and milk for breakfast or a turkey sandwich with orange juice for lunch will keep you regular and ready for anything!

Timing is everything

Timing can be crucial with this diet plan. If you are doing a small workout in the morning it can be hard to squeeze a breakfast in on time. Try a small bowl of fruit or nuts ten minutes before the workout to keep up your energy through the workout and beyond. If a harder workout is planned later in the day it can be a great idea to carbo-load a few hours before. A meal heavy in carbohydrates can really help to get the most out of a strenuous workout if eaten three or four hours in advance.

Fluids make the food go down

That was just a stupid line there above but fluids can be a very helpful to maximize on all of the potential for your diet and workout. If you have taken all of these strides already you may as well commit a bit more, right?

Keep the fluids flowing before, during, and after a workout. This can be tough but keep yourself hydrated even if you are not thirsty. As always water is a great choice for hydration. But if you are looking forward to a workout lasting longer than an hour you may benefit from some needed electrolytes. Many sports drinks re designed to add some extra electrolytes when you need them.

Keep away from any heavy liquids that can keep you down. Coffee can energize you with caffeine but will dehydrate you when you need it the most.

Make sure to keep all of this in mind the next time you are planning a workout. But most of all congratulations on getting off the couch in the first place!