Whether your clients are lifting weights or enjoying a group exercise class, nutrition will influence their performance. Oftentimes, people will take for granted that the exercise they choose doesn't require any dietary considerations, but we know better - you can only exercise as well as you eat! Let's consider the different types of activities that your clients may engage in at the fitness club and assign some diet advice to each, so that every client can find their POWER TO PUSH™ through any workout.
Workout: Step Aerobics or a Group Exercise Class
Eating before a step class will help your clients enjoy the loud music, focus on their coordination, and keep the beat, rather than succumbing to the ache of an empty belly or to fatigue from insufficient fuel stores. Because exercise is only going to last about an hour, a typical meal of carbohydrates, fat, and protein will do just fine.
- The early bird class: If your client likes the early morning class, encourage them to try a mixed breakfast that is easy on the tummy but will still refuel the body after an overnight fast, aka sleeping. This could be whole-grain toast with peanut butter and a banana, a PowerBar Energize bar with an apple, or a hearty bowl of whole grain cereal with berries and low-fat milk. This may require an early alarm, but ask them to try to eat one hour before class to get the most out of their workout.
- The happy hour class: A class after work is a perfect cap to a long day at the office. Encourage your clients to add an afternoon snack to their day: 1 oz pecans and a cup of pineapple chunks, a Powerbar Performance bar, or a whole-wheat pita with hummus.
Hydrate: Don't miss a step because of dehydration! Advise clients to drink 14-20 ounces (400-600 ml) 2-3 hours before exercise, and to enjoy another 8 oz (240 ml) during active warm-up.
DURING EXERCISE: A grueling step class typically lasts an hour, so a bottle of water will do during class for rehydrating.
AFTER EXERCISE: Give muscles the protein they need to rebuild and the body the carbohydrates it needs to replenish after a fun-filled group exercise class. To start the recovery process, consume 0.5 g of carbs per lb (1.1 g per kg) body weight within 30 minutes after exercise. For a 150-lb (68-kg) athlete, that's about 75 g of carbs within a half hour after exercise.
Added tip: Often, the step enthusiast is hoping to lose a little weight, hence the diligence in showing up for class! Let your clients know that fueling up before, during, and after a workout will not prohibit weight loss; rather, it will maximize their workout. To keep the calories in check, opt for 100- to 200-calorie pre-workout snacks, and keep the diet lean and balanced with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low- or non-fat dairy, and lean protein.
Workout: Yoga or Pilates
BEFORE EXERCISE: As many of us know, yoga and Pilates can be challenging. If the yoga class is a meditative sort, such as Hatha, a meal 2-3 hours prior to the class will do; if it's a mind- and body-bending Vinyasa or Ashtanga practice, an additional snack is in order a little over an hour before the first sun salutation.
Hydrate: Yoga asanas, as well as core strength-building with Pilates, require a hydrated body. Advise clients to drink 14-20 oz (400-600 ml) 2-3 hours before exercise, and to enjoy another 8 oz (240 ml) during active warm-up.
DURING EXERCISE: If your client reports going from plank position to downward dog and seeing the sweat fly, it's an indication that hydration is quite important. A Bikram (hot yoga) class can be brutal on the inner thermostat, so direct your client to bring a bottle of water, and, if they choose a class that lasts over an hour, a sports drink. Their inner peace, as well as their postural muscles, will be thankful.
AFTER EXERCISE: It's mealtime after either one of these class choices. Any well-balanced meal will do just fine.
Added tip: Keep the pre-workout food choices easy on the belly, since a hot room or bendy poses can make some people feel a little queasy.
Workout: Strength or Resistance Training
BEFORE EXERCISE: Think you can lift 1.5-2 times your body weight in a deadlift if your muscles are starving? It's unlikely. Your clients want to have the best workout they can, so their pre-exercise meals should include carbs and protein (approximately 50 g carbs and 14 g protein) 1 ½ to 2 hours before the iron-pumping session.
Hydrate: Don't let your clients dehydrate while trying to build muscle. Advise them to drink 14-20 oz (400-600 ml) 2-3 hours before exercise, and to enjoy another 8 oz (240 ml) during active warm-up.
DURING EXERCISE: If the session is an hour or less, pack a bottle of water, but food won't be required.
AFTER EXERCISE: Most strength enthusiasts consume protein in the rebuilding phase. And that's mostly right. Clients should shoot for 10-20 g of protein as soon as possible after training for muscle tissue repair and building. They should also replenish their carbohydrate stores after a resistance training session. Aim for 0.5 g of carbs per lb (1.1 g per kg) body weight within 30 minutes after exercise. For a 150-lb (68-kg) athlete, that's about 75 g of carbs within a half-hour after exercise.
Workout: the Back-to-Back Exerciser
BEFORE EXERCISE: Some of your clients are not satisfied with a single group exercise class. They prefer their trips to the gym to involve multiple hours of fitness fun. These people may not cross a finish line or get a medal for their 2-3 hour efforts, but they are definitely hardcore exercisers. This means that they need to fuel before their time at the gym. Talk to them about having a high-carb, low-fat, low-fiber, moderate-protein meal 2-4 hrs before exercise that provides 200-300 g of carbs.
Hydrate: Advise clients to drink 14-20 oz (400-600 ml) 2-3 hours before exercise, and to enjoy another 8 oz (240 ml) during active warm-up.
DURING EXERCISE: For these back-to-back class fitness gurus, prescribe the guidelines for exercise lasting 2-3 hours: 45-90 g of carbs per hour, or 0.45 g of carbs per lb body weight. Because they are the "just do it" sort of exercisers, they will benefit from PowerBar C2 max dual source carbohydrate blend to increase carb absorption, so help them find a PowerBar Performance bar or PowerBar Energize bar with PowerBar C2 max, or a Powerbar Gel.
AFTER EXERCISE: To start the recovery process, your clients should consume 0.5 g of carbs per lb (1.1 g per kg) body weight within 30 minutes after exercise and repeat within 2 hours, or consume a high-carb meal (about 60-80 g of carbs). Add 10-20 g of protein to complete their post-workout meals.
So regardless of the classes your clients love or the circuit training they do, nutrition is paramount to their fitness success. Even with an hour of exercise, food choices are best found through trial and error, to see what sits well in their belly and provides them the fuel they need.