Following a diet rich in whole foods and avoiding alcohol and smoking is the very best way to ensure that we benefit most from an active lifestyle and exercise regime. It will show in our longterm health and resistance to illness, as well as in glowing skin and a toned body. Unprocessed foods have a huge array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, ready to be absorbed and assimilated into our body to repair and build muscle after a tough workout. It’s important to eat for energy up to 45-60 minutes before a workout, and I usually opt for a Green Goddess Smoothie and a handful of raw almonds for a great combination of easily digested protein, fat, fibre and carbs. Smoothies work so well for speedy energy because the nutrients have been released from the plant cell and are available to be quickly absorbed into our blood for instant, clean-burning energy that won’t send insulin levels skyward. It frees up digestive energy, so we can throw it all into working up a sweat! It’s best to avoid anything that’s difficult to digest or robs our energy and makes us feel sluggish in the gym. For example, I can’t eat porridge before a workout as it sits heavily in my stomach. But for others, it might be the perfect pre-workout fuel.
Post-workout nourishment is just as crucial for our recovery, as this is the time to replace used-up glycogen stores to replenish our liver and muscles. Try to eat within 30-45 minutes of finishing up exercise, as this is the time period that our body requires nutrients most urgently. After weight training, we need protein to begin the process of healing and rebuilding torn muscle, as this is how we get more toned over time. But intense exercise also releases free radicals into circulation, and these can be detrimental to our health and beauty, as they contribute to cellular damage and premature ageing. Luckily, certain foods can come to our rescue and fight the free radicals, so it’s really important to eat high antioxidant foods after a workout to protect our cells. I usually whip up my Blue Warrior Protein Smoothie after a tough weights workout, as it contains a great combination of digestible raw plant protein, omega-3 fats, high-fibre carbs and a rich source of antioxidants from the blueberries.
Amongst the very best plant foods for achieving and maintaining a toned body, are hemp and chia seeds, kale, almonds, broccoli, spinach, quinoa and millet.