Why nutrition starts with drinking fluids

Why nutrition starts with drinking fluids

Interview with a nutrition instructor

Is the scale still showing the same weight despite exercising? And has your body definition stayed the same even after regular workout sessions? Was it not enough exercise? Were the exercises wrong? Usually, the cause isn’t the amount of exercise at all, but rather nutrition. In this interview with Daniela, a nutritional expert, you can find out how to eat well to support your body during your workout.
Expert's opinion
Daniela Sacher-Doskoczynski, B.Ed. has been working in nutrition for over 12 years. After studying nutrition education in Innsbruck, she has been sharing her expertise with schools and kitchens. She now runs two sports studios in Berlin together with her husband, where they offer personal training, holistic nutritional advice and food coaching.

I’m not usually hungry in the morning. Should I even exercise in the morning?

Daniela: „The most important thing to remember is to eat after you exercise. Eating beforehand is a personal choice. Needless to say, it’s a good thing if the energy for the workout is ready at hand. But if you’re not hungry at all, or if you feel nauseous while exercising, eating beforehand can be pretty counterproductive. If you eat before you exercise, there should be about three hours between your meal and your workout, which of course isn’t very realistic for most people to achieve during the day. Most people don’t want to get up at 4 am to be able to start their workout at 7 am.“
A caffeine workout.
There are a lot of people that swear by coffee. Studies have shown that caffeine improves stamina levels and that exertion during exercise isn’t felt as much. However, there should be a maximum of 30 minutes between drinking coffee and your workout, and you should drink your coffee without milk or sugar.

So, it’s not necessarily better to exercise in the morning to boost your metabolism?

Daniela: „Well, that’s certainly not the case for everyone. It’s more important to eat well after your workout because it helps you regain your strength. This will replenish the energy stores that have been depleted during exercise.“

What do I do when I get food cravings?

Daniela: „Basically, cravings come in cycles: when you eat very sugary foods, your blood sugar level rises rapidly and your body secretes a lot of insulin. After the sharp increase in blood sugar levels, there’s always a sharp decrease afterwards. Blood sugar levels drop rapidly, and even end up at a lower level than they were at the beginning. When this happens, you become hypoglycemic and are more likely to crave sugary foods again. The more the levels increase, the more your body reacts. This means that cravings are almost pre-programmed. Other, less sugary foods help avoid these peaks: for example, foods with more complex carbohydrates. They provide your body with energy without overworking it. However, sometimes these cravings can come from a lack of magnesium or chromium. So, if you feel like you’ve tried everything, it might be worth contacting a doctor.“
Regular mealtimes
By eating regular meals, you’re actually training your body to not always want an immediate source of energy. Regular breaks between meals are equally important. The body is busy digesting for a very long time after eating, and if we eat while we are still digesting, blood sugar levels can be more difficult to regulate. If you want to give your body a boost, you could use bitter substances (e.g. green tea, dandelion tea, fennel tea or licorice tea), which can be found in different types of tea. These can also help control your cravings for sweet things.
Regulate your protein intake
The protein content in our foods is often very diluted. Only when protein intake is sufficient is our hunger satisfied. So, if you’re craving sweets – and if you’re hungry – it can also help if you choose foods that are higher in protein, such as cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, soy yogurt or soy flakes.

You just mentioned breaks between meals. Is there some sort of rule of thumb on how long these breaks should be?

Daniela: „Well, it depends on what you ate last: If there were a lot of complex carbohydrates in your last meal, i.e. whole grain products, quinoa, etc., the break should be longer. If the last thing you ate was relatively easy to digest or was a liquid, like a soup, then the break between meals should be shorter. The sensation of feeling hungry, or when your stomach growls, shows that your intestines are being cleansed and that they’re now empty. This is a good sign to start eating again. A lot of people have lost track of this routine, and it takes longer to get used to it again. Intermittent fasting, for example, is very effective in this respect.“

We’ve been talking about in-between meals and healthy snacks for weight loss. How can I tell if I need a snack or an in-between meals?

Daniela: „Ideally, you eat three main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner). How much energy you need depends on your daily routine: If you have a physically demanding job, you’re more likely to need more energy than if you just sit in an office. If there’s too much of a break between your main meals and you notice that you’re getting low on energy in the afternoon, for example, it would make sense to have a meal in-between made up of weight-loss foods – something that won’t make your calorie count skyrocket. It could be a salad or cucumber with dip. A snack, on the other hand, usually has a lot of calories, but doesn’t fill you up for long.“

What kind of snacks would be good for between meals?

Daniela: „Normally, you should be full from your main or in-between meals. If you do have a snack, it should be a low-calorie one. That is, the amount you eat should be low in calories, but should satisfy your hunger. A big plate of vegetables or salad with a light dressing, etc. is better than a small plate full of things with lots of calories.“

How can I recognize something like that at first glance?

Daniela: „Low-calorie products, such as cucumber or watermelon, contain a lot of water, which has a positive effect on your metabolism. It won’t do you much good to eat small portions with lots of calories. This is because our bodies need a certain amount of food to maintain a feeling of fullness by chewing and filling our stomachs. Quick snacks, such as chocolate bars or shakes, are usually high in calories and sugar or sugar substitutes.“
Take things into your own hands.
Prepare your own snacks. You’ll become a lot more aware of what you’re eating. Once you start thinking about your food, you can usually come up with something healthier. And you’ll quickly start to enjoy getting creative and coming up with healthy snacks for weight loss!

What’s the best thing to drink before, during and after a workout?

Daniela: „The starting point should always be water. We’re largely made up of water, and our bodies’ water requirements should be met. This can be easily calculated: Rule of thumb: 30–40 ml per kg of body weight“
For example: You weigh 75 kg x 0.03 or 0.04 = 2.25 or 3 liters of water daily. And this is important: Is it a hot summer’s day? Do you exercise or are you outside a lot? Then you’d better go with 40 ml per day!
Pimp your water
Lots of people say that water just doesn’t taste like anything. But there won’t ever be anything better than water to hydrate your body! There are ways to “pimp” your water to make it taste better – without adding any calories. You could add slices of citrus fruits like grapefruit, lime or lemon, or fresh herbs like mint or lemon balm. Unsweetened teas can be enjoyed warm in the winter and chilled in the summer as a delicious iced tea alternative. In addition, you shouldn’t start working out without anything in your stomach. Water before exercise is absolutely necessary! You should drink a glass of water no more than half an hour beforehand to boost your metabolism.
Workout drinks
People who exercise a lot can take magnesium or drink isotonic drinks. This creates the possibility of supplying electrolytes, which regulate our water balance. A practical choice would be a fruit juice and water combination. It’s important that this mixture contains 100% fruit juice. Flavored concentrates, for example, only contain 20–30% fruit and have a lot more sugar. The perfect ratio for a self-made mixed electrolyte drink is therefore 1: 3 of juice to water. Lots of people also tend to grab a smoothie. But they’re actually really misleading. If you put all the different fruits in a smoothie bottle – one apple, one banana, one pear, five strawberries, etc., – on a plate and ate them, you’d feel full for a long time. Besides, you probably wouldn’t be able to eat all of that. If you drink a smoothie, you won’t really get that full feeling. This means that you consume a lot of calories and sugar without feeling full afterwards.

How does exercise stimulate my metabolism and can I supplement or support it through my diet?

Daniela: „In the high intensity exercise range, there’s the afterburn effect, which is effective and important for your metabolism. It causes the body to burn energy even after exercise. To achieve this you need to reach your maximum heart rate, because afterwards your body needs a certain amount of time to calm down again. This is especially important when it comes to losing weight, in order to burn even more energy. In addition, when trampolining, you also build muscle when you exercise regularly. The higher your muscle mass, the more energy your muscles will burn. Nutrition helps in the sense that you can influence your diet-to-burn ratio. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume, but you still need to consume enough for your body to function properly. If you consume too little, your body will struggle and you’ll experience the well-known yo-yo effect. This is because once you start eating more and exercising less, your body will prepare itself for another hunger period.“

Do I have to eat differently if I decide to do strength training or endurance training?

Daniela: „You’re best off doing a mix of both, so that your whole body functions properly and individual parts aren’t overworked. To build muscle, you need protein. All the charts online regarding exact requirements are, in my opinion, more for competitive athletes. It’s more important that you consider where you’re getting your protein from. It’s worth going to a nutritional counseling service to have individual circumstances factored into the calculation of your needs, because too much protein consumption can have negative effects on your body. The following is generally true: the more natural a product is, the better it is. Protein contributes to cell growth, which is good for muscles. However, if I constantly subject my body to it, then this continuous cell growth can, for example, also stimulate cancer cells.“
This adverse effect caused by too much protein is virtually eliminated with plant-based proteins such as beans, chickpeas, quinoa, broccoli and spinach and flax or chia seeds. They will fill you up easily, which can of course help fight against food cravings.

What should I pay special attention to when eating before or after training?

Daniela: „Since you are using your carbohydrate and protein stores during exercise, it’s more important to replenish them after a workout than to have something in your stomach beforehand. In addition to the vegetable proteins already mentioned, lean cottage cheese, high-quality poultry breast, lean beef, tuna and eggs are considered good sources of animal protein. To avoid a shortage in protein, you should be as broad in your choices as possible. To do so, you should rely on complex carbohydrates that the body can break down over a period of time. Whole grain products, for example, have lots of seeds, so the body has to spend a lot of time digesting them. Yams and potatoes are generally quickly digested. Quinoa, whole-grain noodles or whole-grain rice are usually also suitable.“

How can I support my post workout muscle regeneration with nutrition and how can I counteract muscle pain?

Daniela: „Muscle soreness comes from micro-tears in our muscles. There’s little you can do with nutrition. That’s where exercise behavior matters – regular sessions and not always overdoing it. A little muscle ache is good, because it also stimulates cell generation, but not too much at once. Muscle regeneration in itself isn’t just a nutritional factor, but also a hormonal factor, and this is regulated to a large extent by proper sleep. It happens best on days when you don’t do any exercise. This means you will need to find a balance between exercising and taking days off for muscle regeneration. On muscle regeneration days, you can focus on nutrition so that on exercise days you already know what’s good for you.“

What would you say to everyone as a general tip, Daniela?

Daniela: „One thing is especially important: drink, drink, drink! Because otherwise your metabolism won’t function sufficiently and your body won’t get anything in return! Nutrition begins with drinking fluids – at best, good old water!“