Fuel your fitness
Experts reveal the answers to the most Googled questions about fitness, workouts and nutrition
If you’re into one of the more strenuous yoga styles and take your fitness seriously then you probably already know a thing or two about how to fuel your sweat sesh.
But if you’re new to some of the high-octane yoga workouts out there, then it can be a little confusing as to when and what to eat and drink before and after a class.
That’s true for other high-intensity workouts too, from strength training at the gym to competitive rowing on the Thames.
There’s plenty you can teach yourself about fitness, and doing so is not only useful for beginners. Even if you’re experienced in working out, learning more about exercise and nutrition can improve your routine to see results faster or even fix bad habits that you may have picked up.
However, it can sometimes feel like there’s so much you need to know that you don’t know where to begin.
Fortunately, sports nutrition experts Bulk have conducted research to discover the most Googled questions about fitness and workouts and provided some insight to help you navigate the maze and reach your fitness goals.
“Working out goes so much further than just showing up at the gym,” said a spokesperson for Bulk. “If you’re eager to reach your fitness goals, it’s important to know everything from nutrition to the suggested exercise duration, but it’s understandable that it can seem overwhelming. It’s crucial to try to educate yourself on the ins and outs so that each workout is successful.”
What to eat before a workout?
“What to eat before a workout?” takes the top spot as the most searched for question around fitness. It’s recommended to eat around two or three hours before exercising, particularly if you plan on completing a long workout. Eating a meal with protein before a workout can increase muscle protein synthesis, where your cells produce protein.
In addition, carbohydrates also give your body the fuel it needs to exercise, especially for high intensity exercises, so wholegrain pasta or wholewheat toast might be things to include in your pre-workout meal.
However, it’s not always practical to eat that length of time before exercising, for example if you like to have an early morning session before work, so a small portion of Greek yoghurt with wholegrain cereal will give your body both protein and carbs without leaving you feeling sluggish.
What is pre-workout?
“What does pre-workout do?” and “What is pre-workout?” take the second and third spots, respectively in the Google search lists. Pre-workout is a supplement usually taken by strength and endurance athletes to boost energy, improve workout performance and promote muscle growth. Common ingredients include caffeine, carbohydrates, creatine monohydrate, and it can be taken as pills, powders to mix with a drink, or even be combined with protein supplements.
Pre-workout should be consumed between 30-60 minutes before you workout – doing so will give you more energy to exercise harder and longer, and it can also help to build your muscles if that’s what you’re after.
What to eat after a workout?
“What to eat after a workout” is the fourth most Googled search term around working out.
Protein is the most important nutrient to consume after a workout to increase muscle mass; that’s especially true if your workouts consist of lots of heavy lifting and strength training. Your body needs lots of protein to build and repair tissues in order to continue to grow them. For optimal results, try to consume a protein supplement or high-protein foods between 15 minutes to an hour after your workout, which is known to be the anabolic window (the short time after exercise when your body is repairing and recovering).
It’s also important to keep in mind that 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is the daily recommended amount of the nutrient to gain muscle. Consuming carbohydrates with protein after working out will also help to speed up recovery and replenish the muscle glycogen that you burned during exercise.
How many exercises per week?
“How many exercises per workout?” takes the fifth spot for most searched questions regarding fitness. This one’s more specific to weight training. The recommended number of exercises per workout ranges between four to eight, with each exercise consisting of two or three sets of eight to 10 reps, but there are circumstances that can determine how many you do. For example, if you are training both upper and lower body on the same day, you may complete four exercises for each muscle group equating to eight in total, but if you are just focusing on legs it may be four overall. It is also worth considering that fewer reps with a high weight are better for building strength and muscle mass while more reps of a lower weight are suggested for muscle endurance.
How many times a week should I workout?
“How many times a week should I workout?” places sixth on the list of the most Googled questions about fitness. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended to stay in good health, with that being spread over four to five days or even every day. However, it ultimately comes down to your fitness goals and what exercises you plan on doing. For example, if you wish to train both upper and lower body, as well as doing cardio, you may find yourself working out every day and doing several hours of exercise each week. The beauty of a yoga practice, of course, is that it is a workout for the whole body (as well as being good for the mind and soul too).
If it’s strength training you’re going for, the Bulk experts reckon you should ideally train each muscle group between two and three days a week and wait at least 48 hours before training the same area again. And it’s important to remember that it isn’t advised to focus on the same muscle group every day as it could result in exhaustion, soreness, and injury.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.