The foods you eat provide your body with energy to function each day. Some activities require more energy than others. This week you will learn how to fuel your body for different types of exercise.

Yoga, Stretching, and Other Low Impact Exercises
Yoga and other stretching exercises are considered low-impact. They help lengthen and relieve tension in the muscles. Other low-impact activities include walking, ballet, and water aerobics. These exercises allow you to be active without putting strain on your joints or muscles. Your body primarily burns fat for energy during low-impact activities. You do not need to eat extra food before or after these types of workouts. The nutrients found in a healthy diet should provide enough carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals to help the muscles perform and recover from these light activities.

Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic activities include running, dancing, playing tennis, hiking, and swimming. Foods containing carbohydrates, such as grains, fruits, and some vegetables, are the best source of energy for these workouts. Always eat 30-60 grams 1-2 hours before this type of activity. For activities lasting longer than one hour, eat an additional 30-60 grams afterward. Examples of these types of snacks are ½ cup of oatmeal, a medium banana, a low-fat granola bar, or ¼ cup of dried fruit.

Strength and Resistance Exercises
Protein is vital to the muscle building process. Your body can only metabolize 20-25 grams of protein at a time. It should be eaten in meals throughout the day and especially after strength-building activity. Some examples of snacks to have on hand after strength training would be peanut butter on toast, a Greek yogurt-based smoothie with fruit, or low-fat cheese with pretzels.

Supplements, Sports Drinks, and Protein Shakes
There are many health claims surrounding supplements, sports drinks, and protein shakes. Remember that a natural diet can provide you with all of the nutrients you need to build muscle. Some protein shakes may contain artificial ingredients in place of the vitamins and minerals found in whole foods. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy in order to provide your body with the best fuel for performance. For hydration, drink plenty of cool, clear water.

Use this guide to determine what pre- and post-workout snacks are best for your activities.

Plan a day to be physically active and prepare a snack based on the type of activity you do.

Recovery Smoothie