At FitFloor, we aim to craft rubber flooring that provides the ultimate shock absorption so your joints, muscles, and body can bounce back from the high force of your at-home workout. But your home gym flooring isn’t the only way to fuel, protect, and repair your body. What you put into your body is just as important. To help optimize your diet for your fitness goals, Registered Nutritionist and Exercise Rehabilitation Specialist, Francesco Vescio, shared his top foods to fuel your workout as well as some of his favourite pre and post-workout recipes.
BEETS AND ARUGULA
Not just a perfect pairing for a delicious salad, beets and arugula have several nutrients that are essential to fueling your workout and repairing your body. “Both of these vegetables contain a high amount of nitrates, a natural pre-workout essential. Nitrates help to oxygenate the blood which ultimately improves endurance and work capacity so you can last through those longer workouts. Nitrates can also convert to nitric oxide in the body which helps to widen blood vessels and increase blood flow to the muscles. Along with the fact that beets and arugula contain high levels of health-promoting plant compounds such as polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and lower inflammation, these two vegetables are sure to make for a speedier muscle recovery.”
Whether on their own or used in baking, dates are a must-have addition to your grocery shopping list for a pre-workout snack. “A natural sweetener, dates are a great source of easily digestible carbohydrates that will give you a boost of energy for your at-home or gym workout. This dried fruit helps to top up your muscle glycogen, your body’s main source of energy, and your liver glycogen to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable while you exercise. Filled with natural mineral salts (aka electrolytes) such as potassium, dates are also a great way to support your adrenal glands which ultimately help improve your performance and prevent muscle cramps.”
Chicken might be an obvious choice for your fitness diet and meal plan, but do you know why? “Chicken is an incredibly high source of protein, and its protein is particularly unique in that it helps to simulate the making of new muscle proteins in the body, encouraging muscle building and repair. Chicken also helps to create an anabolic environment within the body for 3-5 hours, meaning if you eat it prior to a workout, you will feel stronger as you train and move. It’s become known that organic animal meat is treated with less antibiotics and has no added hormones, so choosing organic chicken offers an added layer of long-term health benefits.”
Popped into smoothies, cookies, bars and more, oats are a versatile food that have plenty of added benefits to fuel your workout. “Oats are a fantastic source of slow-digesting carbohydrates which helps to stabilize your blood sugar and maintain energy levels during your workout. Oats are also filling and satiating with minimal fat and calories so you can feel satisfied throughout your fitness routine without feeling heavy and sluggish as you move. Oats pair well with fruit, protein powder, nuts, seeds, and more, so they can easily be incorporated into any snack or meal.”
Although whole foods are much more effective than processed ones, and protein powder is not a great source of additional nutrients, protein powder is a convenient and cost efficient way of incorporating protein into your pre and post-workout snacks. “Protein powder will simulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which sets the gears in motion to start building new muscles. Stimulating MPS helps to create an anabolic environment so you can get the most efficiency from your workout and also helps to repair the muscle afterwards.With so many different brands and types of protein powder available, you can find the best one that suits you and your diet or lifestyle.”
Potatoes may not be your first choice for a pre-workout meal, but according to Francesco, there’s more than meets the eye for these starchy root vegetables. “When you’re training or exercising, the body’s main source of energy is carbohydrates. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, Vitamin C, and antioxidants for a high energy boost, but their low fat and low calorie content keeps you from feeling bogged down or sluggish. Potatoes also contain resistant starch to promote a healthy gut, and they are easily digestible, making them a great option for a quick bite before you head to your workout. Finally, potatoes are satiating, keeping you full and satisfied throughout your workout.”
With these helpful tips, you can now head to the kitchen to craft some delicious snacks and meals to fuel your workout. Need some help getting started? Check out Francesco’s recipes for Chicken and “Fries” (link to PDF) or his Chocolate No-Bake Protein Bars (link to PDF), part of his Football Nutrition Fix Recipe Guide.
Registered Nutritionist and Exercise Rehabilitation Specialist
Francesco holds a Master’s degree in Exercise Science with a focus on injury prevention and performance enhancement. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a registered nutritionist with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and a Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Francesco is currently the head of Sport Science for York University’s Men’s Soccer program, and works with athletes of all ages and experience levels. He has also helped individuals move past chronic illness through nutrition and lifestyle changes, and has a passion to help others eat better, move better, and live better lives so they can become the best version of themselves. Connect with Francesco on Instagram @francescovesh.