Yoga, swim, run, dance class: find the best way to fuel your workout
Should you eat before a run or after? Do you really need a sports drink or will water do? We've got the answers to these questions and more...
'Leave a few hours between eating and your class, as too much food in your digestive tract will make you uncomfortable,' says sports nutritionist Anita Bean. 'Because you're not burning huge amounts of calories, you don't need to fuel up - just make sure anything you eat before is light, healthy and easily digested. A chicken salad wrap is ideal.'
Yoga teachers discourage drinking water during sessions because it interrupts the flow of the moves and you won't lose a lot of fluid anyway (sweaty Bikram yoga is the exception). Just make sure you have a good drink of water when you've finished.
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An oaty cereal bar half an hour before your class will give you energy and, if it's a particularly tough class, an isotonic drink sipped throughout will further enhance your performance, Anita says.
'For medium- or low-impact sessions, though, water is fine. Or consider a low-sugar sports drink - it won't load you up with unnecessary carbs.'
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For workouts less than 90 minutes, what you eat beforehand is all-important. 'If you're properly fuelled, you won't need anything during the session, except water,' says Anita, who advocates a high-carb meal two to three hours before you start. 'Pasta or a jacket potato are easily digested and provide a sustained release of blood sugar, plus enough glycogen to last the course. Alternatively, have a cereal or energy bar 30 minutes beforehand.'
During your workout, aim to drink about 500ml of water.
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With resistance training, it's what you eat afterwards that's key. You need protein to rebuild muscles after a workout, while milk, when consumed immediately post-exercise, has a restorative effect.
Anita explains: 'When muscles come under duress, as they do with weights, levels of the stress hormone cortisol increases, leading to tissue breakdown. Milk encourages tissue build-up.'A peanut butter sandwich or handful of nuts and raisins, plus a glass of semi-skimmed, makes the perfect post-session snack.
During your workout, just sip plenty of water.
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On runs longer than 90 minutes, you need to keep your muscles fuelled, maximise endurance and replace lost fluids, so an isotonic drink is ideal, says Anita. Buy one or make your own by adding a pinch of salt to diluted fruit juice or squash. Another option is to carry water, plus an energy gel, soft cereal bar or a few jelly babies.
A recovery drink consumed immediately after your run will aid muscle repair and give your immune system a boost. Zest recommends the chocolate or berry For Goodness Shakes, £1.49, Sainsbury's.
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Again, it's what you eat before you hit the pool that's most important, with protein and carbs being the order of the day. 'If you're planning a lunchtime swim, eat a breakfast of porridge with banana, milk and honey, or poached eggs on toast, then have a small snack half an hour before you dive in,' Anita suggests, 'A handful of dried fruit and nuts or a granola bar will sustain your blood sugar levels for a good hour or so without giving you a stitch.'
'During the swim, sip water or squash.'
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'Cycling's hard work, so take an isotonic drink to boost endurance, or bring a bottle or water and stuff a practical snack in your jersey,' says Anita. A cereal bar or banana will provide a slow-release boost.
'Afterwards, a protein-and-carb-rich recovery drink will help restore energy levels, aid muscle repair and rehydrate you. You can use cyclist-specific ones, but I recommend Nesquik because it provides the perfect ration of carbs to protein.'
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