Foods for Working Out: Fuel Yourself Properly

foods for working out

In the wake of America’s growing waistline, fitness trends have spread like wildfire throughout the nation. While more people are hitting the gym and attending their local HITT class, it’s just as important to pump up your diet as it is to pump up your gym time. Learning about what foods keep you lean and strong is imperative, as more processed foods flood mainstream marketplaces. When it comes to the best foods for working out, there are multiple issues to consider.

Bulking up foods for working out

When you’re ready to bulk up, foods high in protein are your friend. There are complete and incomplete proteins in the food we eat. Animal products are high in complete proteins. Lean beef, chicken, egg whites, low-fat cheese, and skim milk are all categorized as complete proteins in that they have all the essential amino acids that your body needs to build muscle mass. Because proteins we ingest are not stored, and amino acids are recycled, even proteins that are not complete-like those consumed from plant based foods- can contribute significant amounts of protein to your diet.

How much protein do you need?

Proteins should be consumed in grams per day depending on your weight. For example, if you weigh 135 pounds, you should be eating about 50 grams as a non-athlete, but as an athlete, your requirements could increase to as much as 105 grams (most Americans already eat this amount of protein and may not need to bump their intake up). Competitive weight lifters need to be mindful of not only their protein intake, but also their carbohydrate and calorie intake.

Role of carbohydrate foods for working out effectively

Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates can be your friend when you’re looking to be beach body ready. Carbs are essentially sugars that give you the energy to start and finish your workouts. The fiber rich complex carbohydrates in oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta release their energy more slowly. Getting enough of the complex carbs in your daily diet actually spares protein to work to assist in building and repairing your muscle! In addition to sparing the protein to do its job, carbohydrates play other major roles in maintaining our health.

Stay away from simple carbs that are commonly found in candy, soda pop, pre-sweetened cereals, and some high sugar energy bars. If you think about foods your dentist would like you to skip, you can more easily identify foods higher in these simple carbs.These simple carbohydrates have little nutritional value and you are better off emphasizing nutrient rich complex carbohydrates.

Breakfast

Taking time to eat breakfast in the morning will help to kick-start your metabolism. Making an omelet with leafy greens or vegetables, and adding a small bowl of oatmeal is perfect for regulating your sugar levels. Even adding a glass of reduced/low fat milk or cottage cheese with fruit is a much better option than a trip to Starbucks. You’re preparing your body to face the day ahead of you and starting your digestion early in the day. This will help you transition from larger meals at the end of the day to a larger breakfast, followed by a smaller lunch and humble dinner.

Staying hydrated

staying hydrated during working outAs you move through your daily grind and workout, don’t just grab a Gatorade or so-called power drink! Stick with water, and stay hydrated all day long. Properly hydrated muscles will recover more quickly. The recommended daily intake for water is between 2.5 and 3 liters. Begin hydrating in the morning and continue all day long. Have a glass of water along with your glass of orange juice. Bringing a travel cup to work or school is also helpful. When you drink water throughout the day, you help your digestive system process food more efficiently. A good check for hydration is to look at your urine. It should be clear to pale yellow throughout the day. Waiting to feel thirsty means you are already dehydrated!

Gaining muscle mass doesn’t stop at the gym. Being disciplined and committed to the improvement of your overall health will only allow you to achieve your goal quicker. A regimented weight training schedule and proper nutrition will help you feel and look better in no time!

 

Coping With Pet Loss: Try Walking to Ease Pain

Pet LossGrief is what we feel at loss. The loss of a person, a four-legged buddy, or your past way of life. Everyone grieves and copes differently. But even though we all grieve in different ways, we all need to cope. Coping with pet loss is no different. Walking can be a coping tool for all loss, including pet loss. As hard as it may be to start walking to cope with grief, it’s a tool that most of us can use as we cope with loss of any sort.

Planned walking for coping with pet loss

I walk regularly. Walking for me is usually for my physical self-care. But, walking can be for mental health as well. On this day, walking is for my mental well-being. I got on the treadmill after being away from it for a few days. After 2 miles, I got off the treadmill. Then, I got ready for the next exercise event I had mentally planned so I could start to feel better. I had suffered yet another pet loss that I needed to heal from.

Over the weekend, I lost my seemingly healthy 12 year old cat. He was a very cool cat that acted like a dog. Everyone loved him, including all my granddaughters. He is the third fur baby I have lost in 3 years. His death was very unexpected as he had passed his vet check-up less than a month ago with flying colors. He was eating, drinking, playing and being his normal self. I have a hole in my heart. I haven’t really gotten over the loss of my last two pets, and was cherishing the “wellness” of my remaining fur baby.

My planned strategy for coping with pet loss

What was my planned exercise event? I got off the treadmill and went to a canine rescue shelter that allows volunteers to walk the dogs. I knew I needed to do this for my mental health to help healing. The walking of the shelter dog was purely selfish. But, I just knew it would help me and help whatever dog was allowed to escape for the 30 minute walk. It was a calculated move for my mind that was a win-win. I can’t wait to go back.

Walking for mental health

So how does walking help our mental health and just plain old coping? Here are some reasons researchers have suggested walking can help lift our mood and help our mental health.

Fatigue. Regular walking can actually alleviate physical fatigue. Physical fatigue begets mental fatigue. I know when I have experienced severe emotional stress, I always feel physically exhausted. As exhaustion lessens, our minds are better able to refocus and cope with life.

Better sleep. We don’t need to be a scientist to know that a good night’s sleep can be magical. A good sleep allows our mind to start healing and lets us get through the next day more effectively. Better sleep casts a better light on EVERYTHING life throws at us.

Hormones. Some hormones will be increased and others lowered. The shifts in the hormones are of benefit to our brain. Walking releases mood lifting hormones called endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and improve our mood. At the same time, mild exercise can decrease the stress related hormone called cortisol. While we need cortisol, we don’t need the blood levels that come along with chronic stress.

And walking in sunshine? Even better! The sun will allow your body to make vitamin D which will boost serotonin levels. Increased serotonin levels is a known mood booster.

RIP my Louis. You loved hanging with me by the computer and the treadmill. We had a nice visit in Michigan on the porch just before you left me. I am so glad you were able to see all the birds and do your goofy chirp.

Coping for self and supporting others

coping with pet loss

For more excellent tips on how to manage grief from pet loss, see the suggestions from the American Veterinary Medical  Association.

When losing a pet, there’s no doubt the pain is pretty universal. We all grieve differently and for varying amounts of time. With that said, we never forget our fur babies and they are held in our hearts forever. If you are supporting yourself or a friend in grieving for a pet, you can share your support in various ways. I know I’ve personally sent sympathy cards, flowers, and even framed photos of pets to friends that have lost their pets. And, I’ve appreciated the same during my times of loss. It is is comforting to know others are thinking about your loss.

Grieving moves in stages. The passing of time helps our wounds. Have you walked or turned to physical activity to help soothe the process? Please share.