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How to use a healthy diet to supplement your workout routine

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 9:54 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

Men and women who have successfully adopted healthy lifestyles know full well that combining exercise with a healthy diet is the key to getting and staying healthy. Simply visiting the gym won’t work if it’s not coupled with a healthy diet.

But many people incorrectly assume that a healthy diet is one devoid of taste. That simply isn’t true. In fact, a healthy diet does not necessarily restrict foods, but how frequently some of those riskier foods can be consumed. The following are some of the steps men and women can take to ensure their workouts aren’t losing their effectiveness due to unhealthy eating habits.

• Start the day off with a healthy breakfast. Many foods make healthy breakfast options, including fruit and whole-grain cereals. Unfortunately, on-the-go men and women often reach for what’s readily available, and what’s readily available isn’t necessarily healthy. Avoid breakfast sandwiches that are high in fat and calories, and avoid eating fried foods for breakfast.

For those men and women who prefer to workout first thing in the morning, keep in mind it’s important to eat before working out, even if those workouts are in the wee hours of the morning. Working out on an empty stomach can cause feelings of lightheadedness. In addition, many people are sluggish if they exercise on an empty stomach, which can make workouts less effective. If eating before a morning workout isn’t your thing, consider going with a small snack before beginning your routine. If even that is not ideal, then consider a snack before bedtime. However, this option won’t necessarily prove effective, as your body might just consume all of the energy this snack provides while you’re asleep.

• Reassess your snacking habits. If greasy potato chips or sleep-inducing baked goods like brownies are your idea of the perfect snack, then it’s time to reassess your snacking habits. Snacks should not induce sleep, but provide a little extra energy and reduce any hunger pangs. Fresh fruit, yogurt, energy bars, and even whole-grain crackers with a little peanut butter each make for a healthy snack that won’t zap you of valuable energy during the day.

• Let food help your muscles recover. Some people feel they might negate the positive effects of their workout if they eat immediately after exercising. That’s not necessarily true. In fact, foods that contain protein and carbohydrates can actually help your muscles recover after a workout. Yogurt (Greek yogurt is packed with protein), fruit, dried fruit, and nuts make great post-workout food options, and none will negate the effect of that grueling workout you just finished. In general, the longer you wait to eat after exercising, the longer it will take your muscles to recover.

• Stay hydrated. Water is an essential part of a healthy diet, and it’s even more essential before, during and after a workout. When exercising, your body will lose a significant amount of water, which can cause the body to dehydrate. Drink water before and after your workout, and don’t forget to focus on staying hydrated during your workout as well.

Daily exercise is essential to long-term health. But all those hours in the gym won’t pay off if they’re not combined with healthy eating habits.

— Content courtesy of Metro Creative Connection

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