What do you eat after a run? Are you kind to your muscles?
For Canada’s top athletes at the Commonwealth Games, nutrition is an integral part of training. Food fuels the body, and the right nutrients at the right time boost performance. What about us regular folk?
We asked sports nutrition expert Nanci Guest what healthy, active people can do to improve their everyday nutrition. Guest knows her stuff: she was in charge of menu planning for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and has worked with the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.
Her pointers are: eat more protein throughout the day, and be sure you are getting lots of omega 3s and antioxidants. Runners think of fuelling their bodies with carbs, and often don’t pay enough attention to protein, says Guest. Eat small amounts of protein throughout the day — at all meals and snacks — because your body doesn’t store it. Sources of protein include yogurt, milk, cheese, chicken, beans, eggs, tofu, and meat.
Eating more protein will help prevent strains and soreness, and help you recover from your workouts quicker.
“Your body needs to repair muscles 24/7,” says Guest.
Soon after a workout the perfect snack is skim milk and an apple or a banana, she says. If you prefer chocolate milk, add a little chocolate yourself, as store-bought chocolate milk is loaded with sugar.
Antioxidants also help with muscle recovery. Look for colourful fruits and vegetables — red, yellow, green, purple and white.
“They each have different nutrients, so eat lots of different colours,” says Guest.
Good fats are also vital because they help reduce inflammation. “When we exercise, we automatically get inflammation. It happens at the cellular level. Fish and fortified dairy products are the greatest sources of omega-3s.”