Nourish your Workout
Sue you’ve been told that food is the most important part to have a good performance and good results in exercise. It’s very true, but I want you to know that there are many other ways to holistically nurture your workouts. These recommendations will help you see better results, have a high-quality exercise, and feel much better when training.
This is a very controversial topic and if we make some research in the internet, we’ll find thousands of mixed opinions. What is true is that there are certain things we can apply to improve our training, recovery and take our training to the next level.
They are called like that for a very good reason! These foods are loaded with nutrients that will help you get the best results in exercise and your personal goals.
Matcha: it has the properties of green tea but amplified. Its caffeine content will result in energy, but in a more stable way than coffee.
It contains L-theanine, which promotes alertness and helps avoiding a drop in energy levels, so you will not feel the typical "slump" that is felt when the effect of coffee goes away. It accelerates metabolism by increasing energy expenditure, so you will be burning more calories throughout the day.
Maca: provides long lasting energy, improves performance and recovery. In addition, it is an excellent source of protein for your muscles as it contains the essential amino acids necessary for your body, in addition to having high amounts of iron and calcium.
Reduces stress, inflammation, muscle cramps and physical exhaustion. Therefore, it is excellent for muscle recovery and you can use it before or after your workouts.
Spirulina: this is another one of my favorites! It is incredibly rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It is considered a complete and easy to digest protein, which provides vitamin B12, making it a favorite for vegans and vegetarians. Many athletes use it to improve their performance, energy, mental capacity, and endurance.
Baobab: promotes slow release of energy. I know what you're thinking ... slow? But I need energy fast! What I mean is that the release of energy will be constant and for a longer period of time, preventing us from feeling tired throughout the day.
Goji Berries: these berries rich in vitamins, minerals, polysaccharides, and antioxidants such as carotenoids (responsible for their color) are considered an excellent source of energy as they’re rich in carbohydrates, as well as amino acids for good muscle recovery & performance.
That's right, I'm talking about the most powerful thing we have, our brain. Mental preparation is a factor that many leave aside, wanting to obtain energy from external sources or some divine power. The truth is that we decide how far we want and can go. Thinking "I can" and visualizing ourselves doing the exercise is enough to give us that additional strength that we think we don't have.
Be aware that the mind gets tired before the body and it will tell us that we cannot do more when in fact we can. If you train your mind day by day, you will see that your performance, endurance, and energy change radically. Try it and you will see!
The more you pay attention to the movements and physical force you are performing, the more tuned your mind will be with what is happening in your body and the greater your ability to challenge it and go beyond your own limits.
In a few words: Avoid distractions -> Visualize the muscle you're working -> Feel the movement & tension generated.
By creating this connection, you will produce the correct muscle tension, gaining much more strength and generating the desired result. I assure you that these simple steps will make your training much more effective and you’ll see results more quickly.
Exercising on an empty stomach has been proved to be very beneficial to lose fat or gain muscle mass. A fast of at least 8 to 12 hours will cause your insulin levels to be low and you will not have a source of glycogen circulating in the blood. As a result, your body will turn to other forms of energy, mainly fat cells, increasing lipolysis (accumulated fat burning). If you do weight-training, for example, studies show that the growth hormone will be increased by doing resistance exercise while fasted.
It may be that you feel less energized the first week or two because your body is adjusting. Don’t worry, you’ll feel better in a short time since your body will not be spending energy in processing food, you will feel lighter and your energy will be much higher.
I must emphasize that we are all different and therefore our needs too. There are some types of training where it is important to have a certain level of glycogen available (food source) as in high performance athletes, workouts like CrossFit, or other high-intensity training styles.
Post-workout nutrition will depend a lot on the type of exercise performed, the intensity and your goals. It is always important to use good quality protein-rich foods. If the exercise was intense enough, some carbohydrate will be excellent too to restore your glycogen levels.
Warm-up, Balance & Proprioception
Warming up makes your workout more effective. Here's why:
- Increases tissue temperature: increases metabolic rate, muscle contraction rate and tissue extensibility.
- Increased heart and respiratory rate: increases the capacity of the respiratory system for exercise, increases blood flow to muscle tissue and increases the capacity for oxygen exchange.
- Greater psychological preparation for exercise: increases mental preparation for physical activity.
Performing balance exercises will help control and stabilize the body in a static position and when moving or doing any type of exercise.
Proprioception is the feeling of knowing where the body is in space. For example, close your eyes and raise your arm. You know your arm is up because of that sense of proprioception. Poor balance is the result of poor proprioception. Even poor posture when standing or sitting indicates a lack of proprioception.
Doing balance exercises will help you improve in any type of training, make you feel more confident in any exercise, and also reduce the risk of injury.
Overtraining can create several problems. It has a negative impact on the secretion of hormones. Testosterone levels drop, cortisol increases generating a state where catabolism (tissue breakdown) is greater than anabolism (tissue building) causing you to lose muscle mass and increase the risk of injury.
Some signs that you're overtraining are: notice that performance drops, carrying the same weight is harder, sleeping disorders, decreased immune system, loss of appetite, and mood disorders.
Proper exercise scheduling is of utmost importance. I recommend including periodization in your workouts, where you cycle between carrying more weight a few days with fewer repetitions and lighter loads with higher repetitions on other days, for example.
Another point that many do not give enough importance. You should spend at least 5 to 10 minutes stretching, at least 30 seconds for each muscle worked. This is the minimum time it takes for the signal from the brain to be transmitted to your muscle that it must relax.
In this way, you will eliminate tension, increase flexibility and help lactic acid to be absorbed, recovering faster and avoiding subsequent pain. Stretching will help your heart and your entire body return to normal.
Be aware that you should only do static stretches at the end of your exercise routine. Doing them at the beginning can increase the risk of injury as your muscles are cold and, therefore, not ready to be stretched. You can warm up with active movements similar to those you will do in your routine.
Nurturing your exercise is not just choosing the best foods before or after training. It requires a holistic work between good mental preparation, adequate nutrition, physical preparation, sufficient rest, proprioception and balance.
Try to apply these steps one by one in your routine, over time it will become easier and you will do it naturally. Don't forget that the strength and decision are in you. Train your mind daily to become a better version of yourself every day.