Diet and proper nutrition go hand in hand with any personal training or exercise regime - but what do you eat and when?
If you are thinking about personal training in the UAE for any reason or leading a healthier lifestyle in general then you need to know that what you eat and when you eat does play a part in your fitness goals and the result you see.
Question: As a personal trainer in Abu Dhabi what do you think are the best foods to eat before an early morning training session, a snack after work and before an evening training session?
Very early training sessions (5, 6 or 7 am) make is hard to prepare yourself with a full meal especially because it can take a while to digest.
With this in mind something small like an apple, banana or protein shake would be ideal and easy to digest.
My personal choice before doing an early morning personal trainer session would be a strong black coffee to help delay fatigue and give you a boost.
After the training session
After your workout you must eat a good breakfast to prepare you for the day ahead.
For a good ‘on the go’ snack at work or even before training choose something like rice or oat cakes with a small topping of peanut/nut butter or a small portion of almonds, walnuts cashews.
Greek yoghurt mixed with some fresh or frozen berries and flax or chia seeds are also a good choice.
If you are looking to increase your protein intake then you could also opt for something like a protein shake or bar.
How important is breakfast?
Question: We know breakfast is important, what’s a good choice for breakfast?
After waking breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s something we are told from childhood and there is a good reason for this.
Breakfast gets your metabolism firing during the morning hours, providing you with energy to start your day and also reducing the need or want to snack late morning.
A good breakfast with the right nutritional content also means you and your body function better, your concentration improves, you feel more energetic and basically ready to face the day ahead.
So, just like we are told as children – don’t skip breakfast whenever possible.
An ideal choice for breakfast is a meal with a balance of protein, good fats and slow released complex carbohydrates.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
Some breakfast ideas are:
An omelette with peppers, mushrooms, onions and maybe some chicken or smoked turkey bacon is good or some scrambled eggs with wholegrain toast or wholegrain protein bread with some sliced avocado.
One of my favourites is oats protein porridge, oats mixed with almond milk, 1 scoop of flavoured protein shake, flaxseeds, blueberries, strawberries and cinnamon.
You can also do this with greek yoghurt and prepare it the night before, leave it in the fridge and then it’s ready to go in the morning.
Give yourself a little time in the morning to eat properly and you will feel and see the benefits.
Cardio exercises and diet
Question: What are the best cardio exercises to do to benefit my diet?
Cardio exercises are about elevating your heart rate so there are not really any right or wrong ways to do this.
Some people prefer more intense ways of doing cardio based exercises while others like a brisk walk, swimming or even using your own body weight like jumping jacks.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT is popular in the UAE because it combines short bursts of intense exercise with short periods of rest.
For some people it can be challenging but it really does get the most out of you and is a proven way to boost your resting metabolic rates which ultimately means you are still burning calories ‘after’ your workout has finished.
Your body is losing the weight for you!
Other methods of using cardio exercises are part of your diet plan are outdoor metabolic circuits with the TRX suspension trainers, kettle bells, boxing and bodyweight exercise’s.
After a workout food ideas
Question: After a workout what do you think is a good, healthy eating choice from mash potato, fries or pasta?
Post workout nutrition provides us with a way to replenish depleted muscles with good complex carbs so the best choice from the above would be sweet potato mash.
Sweet potato contains more fibre which fills you up easily and enables you to keep a nice steady blood sugar level.
Fries are fried in oil so have more fat in them and will up your calories, a lot more than mash potato.
Pasta can be a good choice, try to go for the wholegrain if possible and if possible stay away from the creamy sauces.
A protein sauce like chicken or fish is good and adding extra vegetables or a salad is always a great way to get some extra vitamins and minerals into your diet.
Watch your portion size!
Be careful with portion sizes when eating out, most restaurants give over generous servings and is easy to over eat as it’s there in front of you.
I like to save half for the next day and get it in a ‘to go’ box. This stops me over eating and eating extra calories I don’t need for that day.
A good rule for the amount of carbohydrates and protein is a palm size handful of each, this being roughly 30-50g of each.
Most restaurants would give you double this amount especially with pasta and potato.
Ask them to serve any sauces on the side so you can add the amount you would like.
Hopefully this has answered some of the popular questions relating to eating for training purposes.
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