Anyone with an active lifestyle will understand how important it is to fuel your body properly. Most of us have learned this by making mistakes. Picture the scene. You get up early to go for a run, go home to shower and walk to the train station for your daily commute. Work is busy, so you don’t get around to having breakfast. By lunchtime, you remember you’ve booked a squash court. A busy day is no excuse when it comes to competitive sport, so you grab your kitbag and head for the courts. Adrenalin carries you through a competitive game but by the end, you’re exhausted. It’s only the middle of the day but you feel like you need a lie down. So what went wrong? It’s all about fuelling. So, to avoid this scenario in the future, here are 6 ways to fuel your body for an active lifestyle.
1. To fuel your body well, make it non-negotiable
We all have certain things in our lives that are non-negotiable. It might be spending time with family at the weekends, looking after a pony every day, walking the dog or fitting in physical activity. Realistically though, fuelling your body should be non-negotiable. Block out time in the diary to prepare and eat decent food every day. It might just be fifteen minutes at lunchtime. Or on a busy day, grabbing a pot of ROAR protein dessert at your desk could be all you have time for. But it is an important item on your to-do list. It allows you to give your all to work, family and exercise without burning out. There’s not much more crucial than that.
2. Listen to your body about hydration
Drinking more water is drummed into us. However much you consume, there will be someone waiting to tell you that it’s not enough. But last year, the BBC published a fascinating article about hydration. It turns out, we’re better at regulating our water intake than we think.
When we start becoming dehydrated, our brains make us thirsty. Our kidneys conserve water by making urine more concentrated. So, drink when you’re thirsty and there are no serious risks. Drinking when we’re not thirsty does help to avoid mild dehydration, which has its advantages. Brain function is better when we’re hydrated and weight loss may be easier. Anybody aged over 60 is at slightly more risk of dehydration as the thirst mechanism becomes less effective as we get older. So, it is sensible for that age group to follow the NHS guidelines of consuming six to eight glasses of fluid per day.
That said, the risk of over-hydration is real. We naturally become more thirsty when we exercise and that’s fine. It’s our bodies telling us to drink. But constantly drinking during high intensity activity might put us at risk. In fact, at least 15 people have died from over-hydration during sports events.
Our bodies need to be able to balance fluids and electrolytes. If we drink too much water, this balance can be lost causing illness and even death. Many sports drinks contain electrolytes, as does coconut water. It is also possible to buy electrolyte tablets to redress the balance. So whilst we do of course recommend staying hydrated, please listen to your body not the moaning Minnie who tells you the 2 litres you’ve consumed today isn’t enough.
3. Meal plan to fuel your body
We’re not going to tell you what to eat. After all, each and every one of us has our own food preferences and dietary requirements. But to make sure you fuel your body well, meal planning is important. List the number of days you expect to be in a hurry and decide how you’re going to cook.
Will you have 20 minutes at lunchtime to throw something in the slow cooker? Do you need to buy a healthy frozen meal that you can just shove in the oven? Then look at what you’ll cook on days when you have more time. Shop for ingredients rather than processed food where possible and know that when you get home after a hard day, former you has got your back with healthy, tasty food that you want to eat.
4. Eat real food
We’ve already been upfront about the fact that we won’t tell you what to eat. But where possible, real food is the preference. Vegetables, unprocessed meat, fish, dairy and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Avoid excess sugar, salt, calories and saturated fats. The NHS offers a useful guide to consuming a healthy, balanced diet.
5. Fuel your body with protein for faster recovery
The dietary gurus over at Runner’s World have suggested 30 recovery boosting foods to consume after exercise. It’s no coincidence that most of them are high in protein. That’s because every time you work out, muscles are being broken down. So, recovery is just as important as the exercise itself. Because that’s when you build muscles up again so that over time with repeated and increasingly strenuous workouts, they become stronger.
Protein is key to a faster recovery. So, turning to a protein snack after a workout is a great idea. If you have a sweet tooth, we highly recommend ROAR protein desserts. The question is, which flavour will you choose? The chocoholic’s delight of Double Chocolate, lively, tangy Raspberry Blondie or Jaffa Break, like a Jaffa cake in a pot?
6. Learn from mums everywhere: Always pack a healthy snack
The worst time for eating rubbish is when you’re out and about and hunger hits. Vending machines are rarely your friend. Fast food outlets dish out the saturated fats and a piece of fruit just won’t hit the spot. That’s when mum skills come in. Mums of young children rarely leave the house without at least a few healthy snacks in their bags. Because when toddlers get hangry, your day out is over.
So, treat your body as your inner toddler. Always pack some healthy, convenient snacks in your bag. ROAR protein desserts can be kept at room temperature all day so pop one in your bag in the morning for when hunger hits.
Other options include nuts, seeds, dried fruit or snack bars made of a combination of those ingredients. Bananas are good for beating hunger, but if you’re going to chuck one of those in a bag then invest in a banana guard first. Dark chocolate is another good option, especially if you have a sweet tooth. Whatever you pack, make sure it’s healthier than what you’ll find in a vending machine but just as tasty.