The winter months are one of my favorite times of year. Snow falls, holiday parties abound, family gathers, delicious food is everywhere, and of course Christmas is celebrated. Unfortunately, these months also result in reduced sunshine and bring freezing temperatures, making it harder to stay energized in order to work out at full intensity. So, what can we do to increase our energy and keep pushing ourselves, even when we dream of being wrapped up in blankets on the couch? The answer is hydration and nutrition timing.
The first key is hydration. We all know that water intake is important. Inadequate hydration hinders performance and lowers energy levels no matter the temperature or season. During the winter months, colder temperatures outside keep body temperatures down and may inhibit thirst. Regardless of your thirst level, it is important for you to monitor your water intake daily. For women, the recommended intake of is 2.2 liters per day. Men require a minimum of 3 liters per day. If you exercise, water should be increased to compensate for fluid lost during a workout.
Tip: About 2 to 4 ounces of water should be consumed every 15 minutes while “getting your sweat on.”
The second key is proper nutrition timing surrounding your workouts. Fruits, vegetable, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains should be the focus at every meal in order to provide you with adequate protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber intake for the day. When it comes to pre-workout snacks, carbohydrate-rich foods and protein should be the focus to top off muscle glycogen stores and help build muscle tissue. Aim for consuming your snack 1 to 2 hours before your workout.
Some great pre-workout foods include:
Almonds (handful) - contains phenolic acid (antioxidant) and vitamin E
Avocado (half) - contains vitamin K, C and folate (DNA synthesis and repair)
Banana - contains potassium (nutrient lost in sweat)
Eggs - whole protein source (contains all 9 essential amino acids)
Focused post-workout nutrition should be very similar to pre-workout focused nutrition. The goal is to intake carbohydrate-rich foods to replenish muscle glycogen stores as well as protein rich foods to promote muscle tissue repair and synthesis.
Here are some excellent additions you can add to your post-workout meals:
Hummus - contains protein, carbs, and healthy fats
Quinoa - a whole grain that packs a protein punch
Salmon - contains protein, vitamins and minerals (selenium, potassium, and B12) and also Omega-3s which support brain function and heart health
Spinach - personally this is one of my all-time favorite energy-boosting and feel good foods (I could write a whole article about it), it’s known to have anti-inflammatory properties and contains a full array of vitamins and minerals to reenergize you after a hard workout.
Check out more healthy and energy-boosting recipes from http://blog.nasm.org/nutrition/energy-boosting-foods/
ENERGY BOOSTING RECIPES
The meals and snacks that follow are rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. These meals are full of vitamins and minerals, and they will keep you satisfied and full of energy throughout the day. (Key: T = tablespoon, t = teaspoon, C = cup, oz = ounces.)
Post-Workout Recovery Smoothie
Breakfast starts the day and revs the metabolism. This smoothie is quick, simple, and offers a balance of proteins, carbs and fat. Servings: 1
½ C low-fat Greek yogurt
½ C frozen strawberries
½ C frozen blueberries
1 C spinach leaves
1 small banana
1 T peanut butter
½ C milk or milk alternative
In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. If desired, add more liquid for a thinner consistency.
Per serving: 363 calories, 11 g fat, 54 g carbohydrate, 16 g protein.
POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY MEAL
Try this recipe that contains energy boosting foods post workout to help replenish the body with the nutrients it needs! Servings: 1
1/3 C quinoa
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 small head broccoli (about 1 1/4 C florets)
1/2 C cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 cloves garlic
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 oz salmon fillet
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with the olive oil.
Rinse the quinoa under cold water. Drain well and add to a saucepan. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Remove cooked quinoa from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the scallions, and fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, cut up the broccoli into florets. In a medium bowl, toss together the broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, oil and salt and pepper. Place the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet and roast them in the oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the salmon on both sides with the salt and pepper. Remove the baking tray with vegetables and nestle the salmon into the vegetables. Roast for another 12-15 minutes.
Place quinoa in a bowl, top with the salmon and vegetables. ENJOY!
Per serving: 452 calories, 42g protein, 20g fat, 261 mg sodium.
(Recipe from foodnetwork.com.)
Steel Cut Oats With Pears & Raisins
½ C steel cut oats
¾ C 2% milk
1 C diced pears
1 oz raisins
2 T chopped walnuts
Cook the oats on the stovetop, according to package directions. Add the milk. Remove from the heat and stir in the pears, raisins and walnuts.
Whole-Grain Toast With Peanut Butter and Honey
1 T peanut butter
1 t honey
1 slice whole-grain bread
1 (8-inch) tortilla
½ avocado, diced
3 oz cooked shrimp, tails removed
¼ C black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ C spinach
2 T salsa
1 oz feta cheese
Fill the tortilla with the remaining ingredients.
Cucumber and Tomato Salad
½ C diced cucumber
½ C diced tomatoes
2 T balsamic vinegar
Toss ingredients together.
1/2 C carrots
¼ C hummus
5oz lean roasted pork tenderloin
1/2 medium baked sweet potato
1 C roasted broccoli
1/4 C pomegranate seeds
1/4 C cashews, chopped
1 (6oz) container of Greek yogurt