Focus on nutrition basics before nutrition hacks

Hey Woodski!
What is optimal nutrition for pre- and post- workout for recovery and strength gains? Gainer Gabe, age 14 (male, hockey)

Dear Gainer Gabe,

Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest hockey players ever, said: “You can’t get anywhere without the basics. You can’t go on to do great things, unless you master the fundamentals.“

So with that in mind, write down the last three meals that you’ve eaten.

Are they balanced with carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats? Are you eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits over the course of a day? Are you avoiding a lot of prepackaged meals and snacks?

If the answer to any one of these questions is no (or if you’re not sure), then focus here before worrying about pre-and post workout nutrition. Sure, this may sound boring or hard. But it doesn’t have to be. Gamify the fundamentals by celebrating every small nutrition win. Give yourself a high-five every time! Share your healthy habits with your coaches, friends and family. Embrace every bit of positive encouragement you receive.

If you’re doing all of these good things – only then – think about optimizing your nutrition around your workouts. This includes:

1.    Focus on a balance of protein and carbohydrates (fats are less helpful pre- and post-workout).

2.    Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day, sip water in the hour leading up to exercise. And after exercise, drink water to replace fluids lost through sweat.

3.    Refuel within 30-60 minutes after a workout when possible. This is when your body absorbs the most nutrients.

4.    Most importantly, skip the supplements and powders. Stick to whole foods.

The best players in the world will tell you that focusing on the fundamentals day in and day out helped them become better athletes. You can do the same!


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The advice offered in this column is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor before making any changes in your diet, exercise or lifestyle choices.
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