Recently I attended a free lecture on “Eating for Exercise” Fueling your body for the Best Workout.” I enjoy free lectures on the subject of eating as well as exercise specifically to compare notes on my current recommendations to clients. This talk was given by a physician and a dietitian from Main Line Health. And the good news is that my recommendations are in sync with what they are advocating.
Although the intent of the lecture was to focus on exercise and fueling workouts, given the average age of the audience, they were mostly focused on healthy eating practices for moderately active lifestyles. However, the same principles can be applied to those lifestyles with moderate activity as those with several days within a week that include specific workouts.
Here are two metrics worth highlighting that you can practice as part of your healthy lifestyle:
Body Fat less than 25 percent
One the services I provide to clients is a set of body composition measurements. We need this for baseline data and I have a terrific scale that calculates the estimated values for body fat percentage, skeletal muscle percentage, visceral fat level, body mass index (BMI) as well as weight.
Body fat serves a vital role in storing energy and protecting internal organs. We carry two types of fat in our bodies:
1) Essential fat which is stored in small amounts to protect the body and
2) Stored fat that is stocked for energy during physical activity.
The distribution of body fat in men and women is different, so the basis for classifying the body fat percentage is different between the genders. However, to achieve a healthy body fat, it is recommended to keep it under 25 percent regardless of gender and age.
Protein Pre and Post Workout
Most people know that it’s important to eat enough protein to support an exercise regimen. Protein is needed both pre and post workout. In general, you need to have enough protein on board to sustain you through your activity.
And there are studies supporting that having enough protein before exercise may reduce post-muscle soreness. But since the primary role of protein, as it relates to exercise, is to repair and rebuild muscles, it is most important post workout as part of refueling. And protein consumption should occur within one hour after the workout.
As I mentioned in a previous article, the Dietary Recommended Intake for protein is .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or .36g per pound. This is a number to use if you are relatively healthy but sedentary. This amounts to 56g/day for the average sedentary male and 46g/day for the average sedentary female. That’s relatively easy to hit: a cup of yogurt for breakfast, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, nuts for a snack and salmon for dinner register at 60 grams.
There are times when a higher dose of protein is recommended. Use a higher number between 1 and 1.8 if you are trying to build muscle and you are involved in consistent and intense weightlifting or endurance training. Additionally, you are supposed to use this higher rate if you are under stress, are pregnant or recovering from an illness.
So what formula to follow? Given the aging process, and that most people are trying to maintain or reach a healthy weight, I recommend starting with your desired weight goal and keep it realistic. Use that number and then calculate about 8-9 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight assuming you practice a daily exercise regimen and include some weight lifting 2-3 times per week.
If you have a day or two that involve a more intense workout such as going to the gym or playing several matches of tennis, it’s ok to increase your protein consumption on those days. But eating more protein means eating less of something else.
Here are a few snacks to try. Remember that you may not need a snack pre and post workout if you had a full meal a couple of hours before your workout or you plan to eat a full meal after your workout. Keeping mindful of your weight goals, snack accordingly.
- apple or banana with 1 TB of peanut butter
- Greek yogurt with 1/2cup berries
- 1/4cup trail mix
- 1 granola bar approx. 150-250 calories
- ½- ¾ cup cup Low-fat chocolate milk
- slice of whole-wheat toast with 1 TB peanut butter and ½ banana
- hard-boiled egg with slice of toast
- yogurt with berries