When we were told Eric Villency was the wizard of wellness, we didn’t realize he kind of actually is. Villency designed the SoulCycle bike, Peloton bike, Barrys Bootcamp equipment and the touch points at Equinox (to name only a few). He’s had a handle – quite literally – on the fitness scene of late, which is why we could think of no better person to ask about the best foods for working out. Below Villency gives us the foods to eat and avoid for your workouts…
1. Dehydration shield
Coconut water and sports drinks have their die-hard advocates, and one world-class triathlete I met even swears by Coco-Cola; to each their own. For me, Pedialyte does the trick. Over the years on high-intensity training days, particularly in hot conditions, I’ve struggled with dehydration. Consuming flavorless Pedialyte before and during serious workouts has prevented many issues for me.
2. Pick me up
There have been some recent studies that say consuming coffee or tea before workouts has a beneficial impact on training and I can’t debate with the science behind it. I know that there are some days you need a jolt before you get after it. I keep it simple with unsweetened black coffee or oolong or green tea.
3. Fill Up
It takes time for your brain to catch up to your stomach. Fiber crackers are a great way to feel full and not overeat during the day. I don’t worry about giving them flavor either, whether it’s a sensible serving of cream cheese or peanut butter. I suggest eating half a portion of your preferred snack and then finish with the cracker and you’ll be set between meals. Three of my favorite options include GG crackers with bananas (for potassium), Wasa crackers with cream cheese, and chia seed infused water
4. Fire it up
I admit I have a serious spice addition. Lucky for me, and everyone else who loves the heat, it has many health benefits. Many people know that hot peppers can speed up your metabolism and fight infections and even cancer but might be surprised to learn that Habanero peppers (my favorite) contain more Vitamin C than many citrus fruits. This is usually a post workout snack for me, because I like to fuel up with easy to digest foods before I exercise.
5. Green Doping
There are an endless list of superfoods and greens such as E-3 live and Spirulina whose devoted acolytes preach nutritional salvation. I am not a fanatic when it comes to specifics and I generally believe “the more the merrier” when it comes to juice. However, I do go out of my way to make sure chlorophyll water is in my diet. It has many benefits including helping digestion as well as aiding with replenishing and restoring red blood cells. I’ve noticed that it gives me an uptick in my energy levels and good breath, which is always a bonus.
6. Fuel up
After an intense training session I am starving. My go to food is avocado toast on Swedish fiber bread. Avocado has twice the potassium of a banana and they are loaded with fiber, which is a nice combination with its antioxidants and cholesterol benefits.
Many people appreciate the taste of sushi for lunch or dinner after exercise. When it’s possible I upgrade with quinoa wrapped sushi, which has double the iron, protein, potassium, calcium and fiber of white rice.
8. Wait until after the game
A few foods I avoid before exercise is salty foods like soy sauce or salted nuts because it can disrupt fluid balance.
9. Danger zone
One of the worst bouts of dehydration I ever had was when I was dragging on a hot day and drank an energy drink before an indoor cycling class. After several IVs, I learned the hard way to avoid the easy fixes.
10. Eating Fat Free anything
Nutritional awareness is at an all-time high. There was a time when margarine and fat free frozen yogurt were considered healthy foods. Going for “good” fats like those in nuts, olive oil and avocados in sensible amounts is much better than low fat processed foods filled with synthetics and lacking a nutritional value.