A big mistake us nutritionists often hear from our clients who work out is that they believe that they should completely cut on carbohydrates (bread, rice, potato, pasta) and just live on proteins (meat, tuna, eggs) to gain muscle or that they should not have dinner after exercising. This is very wrong! And it’s actually the contrary that is true and will give you the results you opt for.
It is very important to have a healthy, balanced and varied diet with 5 frequent small meals to always keep your energy up and help restore fuel to your muscles. Glucose that comes from carbohydrates is stored in the muscle and if your muscles are depleted from it, you will feel very weak at the start of the exercise and you won’t be able to continue your training, so there’s no point in cutting on carbs!
After sports the muscles start to recover and the body needs a new stock of carbohydrates and protein. This is why it is so important that your meals contain the two: pasta with chicken, tuna with bread or potato and meat both at lunch and dinner. Always have a source of protein: fish, meat, chicken, and eggs with a source of carbohydrate like a slice of bread or some side rice. Salad alone is not enough!
If you are exercising late afternoon, have a snack 1 hour before composed of milk, cheese, and toast and don’t forget to drink 8-10 glasses of water all day long to hydrate your body!
For optimum burning of fat, you have to be exercising within your Fat Burning Zone. In this zone, the cardiovascular system is exercised and fitness levels are improved.
- First calculate your Maximum Heart Rate (BCMax) of the heart frequency zone: 220 – your age
- Find the low end and high end of the heart frequency zone calculated as 60% – 70% of the maximum heart frequency zone.
If you don’t have a heart monitor you can find your heart rate per minute by:
Placing the tips of your index, second, and third fingers on the palm side of your other wrist or place the tips of your index and second fingers on your lower neck and press lightly with your fingers until you feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers. You might need to move your fingers around slightly up or down until you feel the pulsing.
Using a watch in the second hand and count the beats you feel for 10 seconds then multiply this number by six to get your heart rate (pulse) per minute.
If it’s between 114 and 133 (like in our example for a 30 years old person) then you are in the right way to burning fat!
It is dangerous to operate the heart at a rate above 85% of the maximum heart frequency, so never go beyond! ─ Just so you know, our normal heart rate at rest is between 60-100 beats per minute.
Finally, please remember that every person is physiologically different and this will reflect on the food and work-out program. Always check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program. Your health care provider, trainer or nutritionist can help you find a diet and fitness program as well as the accurate target heart rate zone that matches your needs, goals, and physical condition.
I hope this was useful to you! Have a great week!
Samia Khoury Dietitian