Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Eating and Exercise

Countless articles and books examine what we should eat to improve our bodies and gain muscle, lose weight, become more flexible, etc.  Experts in every field have suggestions about what to drink before and after a workout, what kind of recovery food we should eat and where the best form of protein is found.  This blog is not meant to be comprehensive, because this is a complex subject that could fill a book.  I'd like to just give some basics on the subject from a raw, plant-based diet perspective.

First, we should all learn more about our bodies.  We can do this by paying attention to it during different times of the day and after we've made any kind of change.  For example, when you workout, notice how much water you drink before and after.  Is this satisfying?  Do you feel dehydrated at anytime?  Because each of us is different, it's important to find out what works for you.

Eating before exercise can cause issues for many people.  Most fitness experts warn against eating a large meal, but some agree that eating a small snack is okay for some people.  The fact is that the energy required for a workout comes from carbohydrates and fat that are stored in your muscles, liver and cells.  There really is no reason to eat before working out, unless you have blood-sugar issues.  However, there are some superfoods that you can drink with water that can give you a little boost of energy.  I prefer a little maca in water before I go on a hike or head to the gym.

It's also important to remember to hydrate before working out.  Be sure to drink pure water from a trusted source.  If you are hiking or working out in the heat, make sure to have extra water with you.  Working out while dehydrated drains the body and increases your risk of injury.  After exercising, continue to hydrate to help your body eliminate lactic acid, which can build up in the muscles from exercise.

Most information about diet and exercise places a huge emphasis on protein.  There's no reason to downplay the role of protein in our diet; after all, amino acids are the building blocks of life.  But there is a myth that you can't get enough protein from a plant-based diet.  Health magazines push high-protein diets like Atkins and the South Beach diet, encouraging people to eat more animal products and turn away from bad carbs like bread and pasta.  On a raw diet, the goal is to eliminate all of these foods and get our nutrition from non-processed plants.

If you do work out frequently, your calorie and protein needs are going to be higher.  Living on salads and fruits can get one into trouble nutritionally.  The goal here is to consume calories from a variety of foods.  Green leafy vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, fatty fruits like avocados and olives, coconut meat and oil and superfoods like Spirulina, sea vegetables and Chlorella are great sources for protein and fat.  Fruits and vegetables, sprouts, juice and smoothies can provide healthy carbohydrates that give energy.  If you tend to lose weight easily, increase your intake of protein and fat.  One of my favorite protein products is Sun Warrior protein powder, which is raw and vegan.  It's a very digestible form of protein that is great for post-workout recovery.

The important thing here is to pay attention to your own body.  Experiment with different foods and amounts. Find out what foods slow you down.  Are you more flexible when you eat greens or fat or a combination of both?  You know your body better than anyone, so start listening to it.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

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