Tips for the Big Picture Approach to Training
The Big Picture Approach to Training
When it comes to achieving your training and competition goals, it’s not just about burning calories today – it’s also about preparing your body for tomorrow. Thinking about the bigger picture – how you’ll fuel, hydrate and repair your muscles before and after you work out – is essential for athletes to maximize their progress and achieve that personal best.
While recovery is often overlooked, it’s one of the most important aspects of training, and neglecting the process can greatly impact the way you feel and perform the next time you train. Planning ahead, prioritizing recovery, and packing proper nutrition are all key to ensuring you reach your fitness goals.
To get the most out of your training sessions, Registered Dietitian and nutrition consultant, Crystal Higgins suggests incorporating these four tips into your routine:
1. Fuel – Whether you’re hitting the trails, or heading to the gym for an extended workout, it’s important to fuel up your muscles before exercising. Remember that the length and intensity of your workout will determine how much you should fuel. If you plan on doing a short workout for less than 45 minutes, ensuring proper hydration with water is most important. Consider something light and easily digestible such as a piece of fruit 30 minutes prior to activity. Sliced oranges are ideal as these provide some hydration as well as carbohydrate.
For higher intensity workouts, or workouts longer than 45-60 minutes, opt for foods that are high in carbohydrate and combine a small amount of lean protein. Consume one of these nutrient-rich (and delicious) meal options 1-2 hours before your activity.
· ¾ cup cooked oatmeal topped with blueberries, cinnamon and milk
· Fresh apple or 2-3 Medjool dates dipped in 1 Tbsp of natural nut butter
· Natural peanut butter and banana sandwich
2. Rehydrate – As a general rule, the more active you are, the more hydration you require. Your body loses fluid and electrolytes as you sweat, which can lead to dehydration, a major cause of fatigue, poor performance, and delayed recovery. Staying hydrated before, during, and after you exercise will help prolong endurance and speed up recovery.
3. Recover – Ensuring your body receives the nutrition it needs to recover is most important after long, steady, intense activity (such as long-distance running) and after strenuous, intermittent bouts of activity (such as basketball). Refueling, ideally within 30 minutes post-workout when your body best replenishes its glycogen stores, is critical for repairing and rebuilding tired muscles, particularly if you plan to work out again within the next 24 hours. Research shows that consuming a mix of carbohydrate, protein and electrolytes, such as that found in chocolate milk, can be more effective at increasing next-workout performance than a conventional carbohydrate only sports drink. At over 80 per cent water, chocolate milk also contains electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium to rehydrate and replenish what is lost in sweat.
4. Restock (your fitness bag) – Preparing for tomorrow starts with planning ahead today. Set yourself up for success by restocking your fitness bag with exercise essentials, such as proper gear and nutrition, as soon as you’ve completed a workout. If you plan ahead today, you’ll be ready to elevate your training tomorrow.
Crystal Higgins is a private practice registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in Vancouver. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree (Hons.) in Dietetics from the University of British Columbia and completed a comprehensive internship program with the Fraser Health Authority (2006-2007). Throughout her career, she has worked with a wide variety of clients, from busy working professionals to seniors and young students. Her experience in nutrition includes working as a nutrition tour leader for Overwaitea Food Group, promoting healthy living in BC schools and facilitating lunch-n-learn presentations. Currently, she is working with Medisys Corporate Health, helping local executives navigate the world of nutrition.