As a fitness trainer who works with the public on a daily basis, I often find myself answering the same questions again and again. Other trainers I’ve talked with say they find the same topics come up on a regular basis. I love answering those questions, but for those I can’t talk to personally, here are the answers to the five most common questions about fitness.
5. What Should I Eat After a Workout and Why?
During and after a workout, the body uses up all the carbohydrates (glycogen) stored in the muscle cells when you eat. Glycogen is the body’s “go-to” source for energy. Long-distance athletes such as cyclists and marathon runners will “carb-load” leading up to their activity to load the cells with carbohydrates needed for longer periods of exertion. No matter the activity, whether moderate or intense, it’s important to replenish your body with much-needed nutrition to start the recovery process. After exercising, start by hydrating to replace depleted electrolytes. Consume a carbohydrate to replenish your glycogen levels and eat lean protein to help with muscle repair. Eat 30 to 60 minutes after exercise when the muscles are in the most need of nutrients. If you’re on the go, pack fresh fruit and a container of low-sugar yogurt or a low-sodium, all-natural turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole-grain bread.
4. Why Should I Rest My Muscles After a Workout?
Resistance training and pushing your muscles to fatigue causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, getting proper rest and allowing time for muscles to recover from intense training is critical. Rest allows muscle tears to heal and regeneration of muscle tissue to begin. Neglecting proper rest will cause muscle soreness, decreased performance and may lead to serious injury. The NASM recommends resting 48 hours between workouts of one particular body part, along with proper nutrition, to build strong, toned, pain-free muscles.
3. Does Muscle Turn into Fat?
No. That would be like saying silver can turn into gold. Muscle tissue and fat (adipose tissue) are two totally different types of tissue. A muscle is comprised of bundles of muscle fibers encased in connective tissue, which is attached to and surrounds the bone. Muscles become larger and stronger by performing a weighted exercise, proper nutrition and rest. Inactivity causes a muscle to become small (muscle atrophy), soft and weak. A soft muscle might be mistaken for fat but, in fact, it’s just a small, soft muscle.
Fat, or adipose tissue, is tissue located between the skin and muscle. Fat is used as energy, insulates the body and surrounds the organs, acting as a shock absorber. Health issues arise when an excess amount of fat is in the blood and when it accumulates around the organs, including the heart, causing them to work harder. You can burn that excess fat off by making healthy food choices and participating in daily cardiovascular activity, to help burn more calories than you consume.
2. Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal?
You’ve probably been hearing this said for years, and it’s absolutely true — breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. According to the American Dietetic Association, “Breakfast is the first chance the body has to refuel its glucose levels, also known as blood sugar, after eight to 12 hours without a meal or snack. Glucose is essential for the brain and is the main energy source. Blood glucose also helps fuel the muscles needed for physical activity throughout the day.” Fueling the body simply means feeding all the cells in your body, which in turn feeds your brain for focus and alertness, your muscles for movement and strength and all the organs so they can function properly. Studies have shown that people who eat a healthy breakfast have improved concentration, better problem-solving skills and more energy for physical activity. Studies have also found that breakfast is an important part of weight loss and weight management. Eating breakfast will curb your appetite and prevent overeating later in the day. For those who just can’t bear the thought of waking before your time, try these quick and nutritious breakfast ideas that even sleeping beauty can put together on the go:
• Boil some water in the microwave and grab a packet of instant oatmeal (no more than 10g of sugar per serving) along with a banana and a glass of skim milk.
• Try a whole–grain English muffin or two pieces of whole-grain raisin toast, cottage cheese or yogurt and a glass of fresh orange juice or milk.
1. How Do I Get A Flat Stomach?
The abdominal muscles are a group of four pairs of muscles that start, stop and extend to various places on the spine, ribs and pelvis. Some are deep within the body and support the spine whereas others are on the surface and are visible. Abdominal muscles allow your torso to rotate and bend, and they work together with the back muscles to help you maintain proper posture and a healthy spine. Strong abdominal muscles prevent injury, improve sports performance and balance and are critical for everyday function.
Just as with any other part of the body, you must do the work to gain the benefit. Healthy eating, cardiovascular activity and specific exercises that target the abdominal muscles will ensure a strong, toned and flat midsection. For best results, contact a certified fitness instructor for help adding these exercises, such as crunches, to your exercise routine.