Many times people ask me about eating and exercising. What people say out there is very often confusing, eat 2 hours before, don’t eat right after, eat after, eat only protein, eat a heavy breakfast, or the worst I’ve heard was drinking cold water after you exercise can make you fat. That, my dear friends, is untrue because water contains 0 grams of calories to begin with. =)
I think that when it comes to Malaysians, eating becomes a very delicate issue. As a pretty big foodie myself, I can completely understand the need to eat. What we Google up in the www should sometimes be taken with a pinch of salt because more often than not, this information cater to people in European, Australasian or American societies whereby the dynamics of eating is FAR FAR from what we have got going on here in Nasi Lemak Land.
So, I’m gonna try and make it easy to understand, my fellow Boleh Landers:
1. Do not eat RIGHT before exercising, unless it is something as light as half a banana. If you have no choice but to grab a bite whilst driving to the gym, and the only time you can eat is when you’re waiting at the traffic light outside, then my advise is make it light. Half a banana is usually a good enough source of energy, and doesn’t take the body too long to break down. When you start to work out, blood supply to the gut and digestive system is slowed down almost to a complete stop, so more blood can be distributed to the working muscles to provide more oxygen. So if you have a packet of Nasi Lemak, or a sandwich sitting in your tummy, chances are it’s gonna sit there until you finish your work out and have your heart rate back down to normal before the digestive system is going to fire up again.
2. Eat at least 1 hour before exercising. I always tell people 1 hour, because already that can be quite hard to achieve for some people. But 1 hour is long enough to allow your digestive system to dice up at least half the meal you’ve eaten, IF you had a small-ish meal. A whole plate of fried rice is going to take at least 2 hours, I’m afraid. If you’re a morning exerciser, I suggest you opt for the banana breakfast, if you’re the sundown exerciser, then I suggest you have a small lunch or dinner 1-2 hours before you plan to work out. This keeps you and your tummy and your appendix all happy.
3. Avoid oily, greasy foods before and after working out. Technically, with the digestive system slowing down to accommodate your working muscles and all, food is going to be hard to digest any way. Feeding yourself complex fats is not going to ease digestion. Rationally, why would you want to go waste that work out for? :)
4. Drink sport/isotonic drinks during and/or after the exercise. I know you feel good having a bottle of Gatorade in your hands. At least it’s not a can of Coke, right? Well, yes if you actually did a work out today and your purpose of drinking it is to replenish the lost salts and fluids in your body. But no, if you haven’t done anything because a bottle of 100 Plus has just about as much sugar as a can of Coke. If you’ve worked up a good sweat though, by all means have a can of 100 Plus to speed up rehydration and aid digestion too.
5. Moderation, moderation, moderation. I cannot stress this enough. This is the Golden Rule of all. I know you’ve just done a million burpees, or skipped a billion times, or ran to the moon and back. I know you’re famished by now and your boyfriend is starting to look like Ayam Bakar (Roast chicken), but please do not gorge yourself with food after a work out. Eat just enough to keep you happy, so you wouldn’t eat the person next to you. Especially when you’re leaving the gym at 10.30 pm and you’re dying for some maggi goreng. Ordering a double with extra egg and tandoori chicken is just going to give you a sleepless night. Eat what you would eat if you didn’t get a work out that day, so you wouldn’t be offsetting the calories stored in your body. =)
Hope this helps!!