Healthy tips to keep you energized-whether you're running a marathon or just want more stamina in your everyday life by Megan O. Steintrager, Epicurious.com
It happens to all of us: You promise yourself you're going straight from the office to the gym, but come quitting time, you're too exhausted to lace up your sports shoes. Heck, you barely have the energy to make yourself a snack. But chances are a snack is exactly what you need. "Food is fuel," says sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., and if you want to have energy for peak performance in athletic events-or for daily life workouts like your job or chasing a toddler-you have to fill up your tank with quality "gasoline."
To get tips on eating for energy and fitness, Epicurious spoke to Clark, as well as three top athletes: swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Dara Torres; gymnast, Olympic gold winner, and Dancing with the Stars winner Shawn Johnson; and Garmin-Slipstream Pro Cycling Team member Timmy Duggan.
You're probably wondering how the eating habits of these super-jocks could work for you unless you're trying to gain weight (especially if you've seen the hilarious Saturday Night Live skit about the 12,000-calorie Michael Phelps Diet). Clark maintains that whether you're packing in the nutrients for a fitness event, trying to maintain or amp up your energy for normal daily life, or trying to lose pounds and inches, you still need to eat right. Her advice is to "fuel by day and diet by night." Taper your caloric intake as the day progresses-beginning with a big breakfast and ending with a small dinner-to rev up your metabolism and give yourself enough energy for the day's tasks. Don't waste calories on a giant dinner or dessert.
When it comes to what kind of fuel to put in, Clark and the athletes agree: For overall energy and health, eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fitness buffs should fuel up on complex carbohydrates before exercise (and add additional simple or complex carbs during exercise for longer, more intense sessions-anything over about an hour). After exercise, refuel your glycogen stores with more carbs, and add high-quality lean protein to repair muscles. To lose weight, these rules apply, but the first rule of losing pounds (while maintaining energy) remains that you burn off more calories than you take in. For specific high-energy foods favored by the pros, read on.
While too much fat can weigh you down, a modest amount of healthy fat-think olive oil, fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds-protects your heart and provides sustained energy. In fact, says Clark, studies have shown that professional athletes perform better when they have a slightly higher fat intake-fat is actually stored within the muscles and is tapped for fuel during endurance events. "I need to start the... more
Photo by: Gourmet/Yanes,Romulo A
While too much fat can weigh you down, a modest amount of healthy fat-think olive oil, fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds-protects your heart and provides sustained energy. In fact, says Clark, studies have shown that professional athletes perform better when they have a slightly higher fat intake-fat is actually stored within the muscles and is tapped for fuel during endurance events. "I need to start the day with some fat and protein to keep me satiated," says cyclist Duggan.
Recipe to try:Molasses Muffins with Flax and Datesless