Diet: Eating processed foods before a workout could help your performance – less ‘weak’

Rapid weight loss 'becoming much more accepted' says Mosley

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Processed foods have installed fear into health-conscious people for years, but sports nutritionists have suggested they might not be as bad as we think. Limiting the amount a person consumes can be a good thing even if not dieting or trying to lose weight to a point.

But there are benefits to processed foods that could help achieve fitness goals.

They’re often considered unhealthy, however not all processed foods are created equal — some may even be “good for you”.

Carbs are good to consume before a workout as they maximise performance and recovery.

But experts note it’s important to fuel your body with the right nutrients for longer exercise sessions.

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“If you’re strapped for glucose during your workout you’ll likely feel weak and tired, and will be tempted to call it quits and take a nap,” nutritionist Jessica Jones said.

“Some carbs I recommend eating before a workout for quick energy include a granola bar, a piece of fruit, oatmeal, crackers, a rice cake, or a piece of toast.”

Whole foods generally contain more nutrients but processed carbohydrates, for example, are easier to digest because they lack fibre.

They also produce a spike in blood glucose, providing the body with a short-lasting source of energy.

This means they are favourable to consume as a before and after workout meal, rather than an apple, which has a high fibre content.

Rebecca Addison, a sports nutritionist at Auburn University, noted that she’s found certain fibrous foods such as apples and large servings of vegetables, to be “too hard to digest”, so she saves eating them until after she completes her workout.

“The key is to find foods that sit well with you,” she said.

The main dietary sources of refined carbs are:

White flour

White bread

White rice



Sports nutritionist and researcher at Brock University in Ontario Anne Guzman, noted that processed protein sources, like powders and bars, can also be helpful.

Powders have a high concentration of protein and research conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch found that a person can consume around 25g to 30g of protein per meal.

Kelly Jones, a Philadelphia-based certified sports dietitian, said: “The recommended intake of protein for both female and male strength and endurance athletes is 1.2 to two grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

“This is ideally with meals spread throughout the day.”

For the average 10st woman, that’s between 82g and 136g of protein each day, which can be hard to get from just whole foods sources like nuts, cheese, or yogurt.

She added: “Ideally, protein will be spread into moderate doses four to five times per day, rather than just having high doses post-workout and at dinner.”

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