From Dr. Daryl Gioffre
Back when I was playing soccer in college, I thought I knew how to eat to perform better on the field. Whoa, was I wrong! I would load up with carbohydrate heavy meals before games, eating pasta with heavy sauces. I would try to bulk up, eating meat three times a day. And maybe worst of all, I would reward my hard work with a sugary snack after every practice and game.
Looking back, I would absolutely attribute all of the injuries I sustained as an athlete to my diet. I was expecting my body to be a world-class athlete with hardly any healthy fuel to run on. Despite what some may say, you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Fortunately, I’ve learned so much since those days and I’ve changed the way I eat before, during, and after working out. The results? I am more fit in my 40s than I ever was in my 20s when I was playing soccer every day – and I can honestly say nutrition is the primary player in that!
Now I give my body what it needs, and it rewards me with unstoppable energy and good health all the time. I quickly recover from my workouts, and am always ready to go the next day. Food has become my FUEL as opposed to an instant gratification.
Without having to think about it, I avoid the sabotages that plague people who are trying to get healthier, like:
- not being able to lose unwanted weight, despite working out and trying to eat well
- crashing after exercise and feeling depleted the rest of the day
- throwing off your body’s sensitive blood sugar balance, leading to headaches and sugar cravings
- preventing muscle tissue from healing properly after a workout or an injury
- a metabolism that is working slower than it should be working
If you implement the right nutrition protocol, you will reset your body’s metabolism and will train it to burn FAT as its primary source of fuel instead of burning sugar. So let’s run through what I eat and how you can take action to do the same.
BEFORE A WORKOUT:
And as far as fuel goes and what to eat, it is very straight forward: avoid SUGAR and GRAINS at all costs. I keep myself very well hydrated before, during, and after a workout. Your body will lose an extra liter of water working out, so you must replace this. The average person loses 2.5 liters of water daily, so if you are exercising, that loss becomes 3.5 liters. With that said, your goal should be to drink 3-4 liters of filtered, alkaline water with an ideal pH of 8-9.5 – not just on the day of your workout, but more importantly on the days leading up to your workouts.
The same goes for nutrition. Believe it or not, what you eat right before your workout is not as important as what you eat the night before or even two days before. What you eat two days before a workout will have a massive impact on your performance that day, so be proactive – not reactive – in regards to what you are putting into your body on an ongoing, regular basis.
Before a workout, your body works best with foods that are easy to digest. Thirty minutes before my workout, I always drink a dehydrated greens powder like Alkamind Daily Greens for energy, as it is quickly and easily absorbed into my system. I know that it’s going to deliver vitamins and minerals to my body right away that will give me a healthy, energetic advantage in my workout.
If I am going to eat something, it will be something light like a vegetable soup or pureed vegetables. Or, I will have a few scoops of raw nut butter. Remember, if you eat fat, you will burn fat, then your body will crave fat, and that is the cycle you want. If you eat sugar, you will spike your insulin levels, and you will be more likely to burn sugar; then you will crave sugar, and so the viscous cycle goes. Sugar is a dirty burn and a poor choice of fuel. And what are the most common foods I see available on the marathon course? Bananas, oranges, candy, and Gatorade. When exercising, always avoid sugar in ALL forms. Have you heard athletes who say they ‘bonk’ out during their workout? Well, eating sugar is a surefire way to make that happen.
That is why the very worst thing you can do is carb load before working out or the night before a big race. In every marathon I participate in, the night before they are always having these big pasta parties. Don’t succumb and you will have better success. Instead, on the night before a marathon my plate will consist of 80% dark green leafy vegetables and healthy fats, 10-15% protein from fish or plant-based, and 5-10% carbohydrate (from a starchy carb).
Avoid a lot of protein before a workout as this can cause cramping. Protein requires more fluid to be metabolized than carbs and fat require, and cramping occurs when the body is less hydrated. Animal proteins are highly acidic, and they will also use up your important mineral reserves to neutralize any acidity. You will need your minerals reserves to neutralize the lactic acid production from your workout. The same goes for protein as it did for sugar – we do not want protein as our primary source of fuel. Protein is for building muscles, not for fueling them.
DURING A WORKOUT:
Now you might be thinking, what do I eat during a workout? Good question. I don’t eat. I drink, and I drink a lot! I try to hydrate with a liter of water while I’m working out. That might sound like a lot, but that’s what your body is losing as you sweat. Replenishing as you go is essential to prevent you from becoming like a dried-up sponge during the course of your workout. I like to add a few slices of lemon or lime to my water bottle before I hit the gym because it tastes delicious and it has extra alkalizing minerals.
If I am exercising for more than 90 minutes, I’ll have a small snack that is more fat oriented. For example, I will take a sprouted tortilla, spread it with raw almond butter, drizzle a little Manuka honey, add chia seeds, and then some cinnamon. Roll it, cut it into little slices, and place each slice in saran wrap. The Manuka energizes, and the cinnamon prevents any spikes in blood sugar levels. Chia seeds are 50% Omega 3 Fatty Acids and 20% protein, and literally act like slow burning coals, giving you bountiful amounts of energy.
Most energy gels that you can buy online or in stores are loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners, so I make my own. I will take 1 cup of filtered water and add 2 to 4 tbsp. of chia seeds; let them sit overnight to thicken. This is a great healthy fat that will energize your workout, so I always keep a small amount on hand if need be. But most importantly, no matter the exercise, stay well hydrated. Every 15 minutes, take a big sip of water, squish it around your mouth, then swallow.
AFTER A WORKOUT:
After a workout, alkalizing foods are an integral part of the body’s post-repair process. If you don’t alkalize, the lactic acid will build up in your body and your joints, causing joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, and muscle aches. You quickly want to get something into the cells of your body to neutralize the acid, and the window to do so shuts down 15 minutes after your workout, so prepare ahead of time. The first thing I do after a workout – before I even leave the gym – is take a single-serve packet of Alkamind Daily Minerals (I keep them in my gym bag for convenience) and add it to 16 ounces of water. That way, I start refilling the tank right away with the minerals and nutrients that have been depleted – potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium bicarbonate.
Then when it’s time for my next meal (I wait at least half an hour), I prepare a plant-based protein smoothie. I will always have some dark green leafy vegetables as a base (like spinach, kale, watercress or Swiss chard), a frozen banana or some berries, and some healthy omega 3 fats like chia, flax, and/or hemp seeds. Lastly, I always like to add a scoop of Alkamind Organic Daily Protein in my favorite flavor, Vanilla Coconut. It is loaded with 18 grams of plant-based protein, plus coconut oil which helps the body burn fat and build lean muscle mass. The plant-based omega 3 fatty acids are very helpful in the repair of the body tissue. I also like to add some additional superfoods like raw nut butters (almond, coconut, and cacao butter), and ginger/turmeric, which are both anti-inflammatory.
45 minutes or more after your workout, you can then introduce some solid proteins such as a salad with salmon and/or avocado, chia and hemp seeds, and sprouts. If you are going to use an animal-based protein, make sure the meat is organically grass-fed, otherwise you will be getting an indirect dose of grains and unhealthy inflammatory Omega 6 Fatty Acid. Wild caught fish like salmon, anchovies, sardines, herring, and trout are a better option.
Follow this plan and you will alkalize and energize your body. Plus, you’ll not only have your best workout ever, but will also recover quickly so that you are ready to go the next day!
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All content on The New Potato (even when supplied by a medical professional) is intended for educational and conversational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any new diet, exercise regime, or wellness routine.