What to eat to get strong, fit, & fast
As Director of Sports and Fitness at Herbalife, I’m often asked about how athletes can improve their performance. It comes down to sports nutrition – you need to feed your body the right nutrients at the right times to help it perform.
You get stronger while eating and sleeping – not while working out.
2 to 3 hours: can eat a full meal, generally limit fat.
1-2 hours: Something light (sports bar, fruit – mostly carbs, some protein)
1 hour: Sports drink with electrolytes, some calories – something easy to digest. A caffeine + nitric oxide (NO) product will be useful to get the most out of your workout (energy, focus, muscle pumps, blood flow).
Target: caffeine (50-150mg), arginine (2-3g), creatine (2-3g), amino acids, electrolytes (100-200mg sodium), some carbs (10-20g), some protein ok (<10g)
Don’t be scared of carbs here. Carbs will give you energy to complete a longer workout with more energy – and you’ll be able to do more reps with more weight at the end of a workout: meaning you’ll get stronger. Also think about consuming some protein – it will help prevent muscle breakdown. Look for a sports drink anywhere from a 3:1 to a 10:1 carb-to-protein ratio (often recovery drinks for endurance athletes are perfect to drink during a gym workout).
Target: 25-50g of carbs per hour (aerobic being at upper end) + protein (3-10g) Total 100-200 calories / hour
This is the most important time to eat properly. A mixture of carbs and protein is key. Carbs help protein build muscle, and refill the energy “gas tank” called glycogen. Look for a recovery shake with a mixture of fast + slow proteins and free amino acids, particularly BCAAs, which are the “building blocks of muscle.”
Depending on your size, consume about 20-40g of protein and 10-25g of carbs – 200-400 calories after workout.
Hydration: Athletes can easily lose >1L of sweat per hour and 1g of sodium. You’ll need to drink 1.5L of water for every 1L you lose unless you consume electrolytes that will facilitate the re-hydration process.
Vegetables: These are a great source of antioxidants and phytochemicals. They’re also rich in fiber, which means they’re filling and good as snacks so you’re not loading up on junk food during the day. Try to eat good, wholesome food every day. Include vegetables with every meal, and make it easy – cut them up Sunday night so it’s easy to grab and go during the week.
Healthy fats: These are known to fight inflammation and are linked to better overall health. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts (generally not peanuts) are great. Sprinkle some onto cereal in the morning or into a shake.
Soft Drinks: avoid soda at all costs. The only time I might forgive a soda is if you just did a killer workout, you don’t have a good recovery shake with you and you can’t get to conventional food!
Herbalife markets food and supplement products, including hydration supplements.