In “Ask the Expert – Exercise and Nutrition (Part One)” we got a chance to catch up with fitness and nutrition expert, Kris Abbey, to find out her take on some common questions regarding exercise and nutrition. Here is the continuation of that discussion.
6. Should active individuals consider added supplements to their current food intake?
I’m a fan of supplementation. If you can’t get what you need through diet alone, than taking a supplement is a good option. And let’s face it, even if you’re eating the healthiest diet on the planet, you can’t always get the nutrients you need from food. Food quality has declined over the years due to excessive farming techniques that have depleted the soil of its nutrients, and therefore the food grown in this soil is less nutritious.
Also, the sheer volume of food required to meet some of your nutritional needs would have you eating 10 cups of spinach (for example)… and I find that hard to… well… swallow.
As we delve further into nutrition I’ll explain this is more detail. It’s a really important point to discuss and again, every one’s needs are different so to make a grandiose statement that we all need to supplement isn’t correct. As a simple rule of thumb, most of us could benefit from a multi or antioxidant (especially vitamin B) if you exercise a lot and/or suffer from stress. Both have a similar affect on the body as far as inflammation goes, and this reduces the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B. Also, the majority of the adult population in the Western world lack zinc. Zinc is tough to get from food, so a zinc supplement is a good option.
Lastly, I’m a fan of a good Probiotic. A Probiotic helps maintain a good bacteria balance in the lining of the gut. This helps improve the absorption of nutrients from food, meaning you’ll get more of the goodness from your food rather than it just passing through and going out the other side without being used. And sometimes this is all you need to do to improve your nutrient intake.
Any way, there is so much we can talk about on supplements alone, so stay in touch.
7. What are the benefits of a pre-workout snack? Please provide examples (and timeline) of recommended pre-workout snacks for optimal performance.
I’ve had a lot of clients come into my studio set to train, only to find they feel faint and nauseous part way through. My first question, ‘When was the last time you ate’? As soon as they get a slice of orange down their throat or half a banana they come good. Going back to our car analogy – how do you expect it to go 100 mph with no gas?
There is a lot of science around when and what to eat pre, during and post exercise to:
- Improve performance
- Maintain performance
- Improve recovery
Pre- Exercise – Eating something with slow release energy (say 30 minutes prior) is great. For example, a piece of fruit with a few nuts is great as you get the quick release energy from the fruit sugar (fructose) and the nuts add protein and help the energy release to be more sustained, as well as provide another source of energy so you spare your lean muscle. Any thing too heavy will sit in your stomach and your body will have this internal conflict – do I spend energy digesting this food or do I put it towards the muscles requiring energy for exercise.
Starting to hydrate pre exercise is important as well. Water is perfect.
During Exercise – This really depends on what you’re doing. If lifting heavy weights, you might want to have a protein formula handy to sip on while you train. If it is more aerobic based, water for hydration is all you need.
If you’re doing an endurance event, then you’ll need plenty of water as well as something to help replace your electrolytes. Coconut water is the BEST form of electrolytes. It has the perfect balance without all the sugar you’ll find in commercial sports drinks.
Post Exercise – Now this is probably the most critical time to eat that will impact the effect of your training and your recovery. Ideally within 30 minutes of training you will refuel with something that has the right carb to protein ratio. You need to restock your glycogen stores so your body has energy to continue to burn fat. Yes, you read that correctly. And protein to help repair and build the muscles worked during exercise. Would you believe a glass of chocolate milk is as good as anything. I’m a bit more of a purist, so I’ll go an Almond milk with some cocoa and a touch of honey for the perfect post exercise top-up. And water and more water.
8. How important is water to performance? What is the recommended water intake pre-, during, and post-workout?
Dehydration is a bitch. You’ve seen runners lose total control of their body as they try to cross the finish line at the end of a marathon. Or athletes cramp up mid race. Why? Dehydration.
Your body is made up of 75% water, and the correct balance of water is vital to maintain an optimum level of physical and mental performance. Even a small decrease in hydration has adverse effects. Research shows that a decrease as small as 1% has significant impact, while a loss of 6% causes weakness, dizziness, headaches and other symptoms of dehydration.
Too much water could result in mineral imbalances, while too little could cause dehydration, headaches or fatigue. So, how much should you drink? Bio-individuality applies not only to food but also to the amount of water our bodies need to function properly. On average, men should have about 3 liters (13 cups) and women about 2.2 liters (9 cups) of water each day. If you drink coffee or tea then you should have another two glasses of water to offset the diuretic effect of he caffeine in these drinks.
Add another liter if you’re a heavy sweater or you live in a humid environment. It’s best to replace fluid after your body excretes it. So constantly sipping water during exercise is a good ideal. Also weigh yourself before you exercise and then again after. The loss of weight is actually loss of hydration. So keep sipping that water until your weight is back up to the pre-exercise weight.
Note that water loss also occurs during sleep so a couple of glasses of water before you eat your breakfast is advisable. The remainder of your water consumption should be evenly spread throughout the day. But upped during exercise.
Our body is a complicated myriad of systems and chemical responses of which water is the lynchpin. With out water, things become out of balance and our health and normal function suffers. So the message is simple, drink at least two liters of clean water everyday, and you are a big step in the right direction of good health. Cheers!
9. What are some traits someone should look for when seeking out a good registered dietician/nutritionist (i.e., certifications, characteristics, traits)?
Always check their credentials. But most importantly choose someone who’s on your page when it comes to nutritional beliefs and someone you get along with. Like a good friend, if their value system is similar to yours you’ll get along just fine. But if they believe a diet of artificial colors and flavors as long as it is local is fine, and you disagree. After a while you’re not going to get along. If you’re a meat eater and they are prophets of veganism, again, not the best fit.
Funny enough go with your gut! If you feel a good rapport with the nutritionist and what they are saying resonates with you and your lifestyle, then go ahead and engage with them. However, if it doesn’t feel right, move on and find someone who does. Think of it like choosing a personal trainer. If you’re laid back and enjoy all form of exercise, you’re NOT going to engage a Drill Master with no personality as your trainer. That would be HELL!
10. What are three (3) simple steps we can take right now to improve our overall nutrition (that will not affect our budget)?
- Eat foods that are local and in season (more nutritious and cheaper)
- Stop eating Sugar – it’s the drug dealer of calories (cheap and nasty)
- Don’t be afraid to eat fat – especially good sources of plant sources
We are proud and excited to have Kris join our team of exceptional writers and contributors at TodaysFitnessTrainer.com. Stay tuned to learn more about health, fitness, and nutrition from this health and wellness professional from the land “down under”!
Kris Abbey is the publishing editor of Spa Life and Better Health magazines and has been passionately involved in fitness, health, and wellness for over 30 years.
For more information on Kris Abbey, click here.