Fueling Your Workouts

Feeling sluggish during your workouts? Perhaps you’re not getting the appropriate fuel. If you head off to the gym at 5 p.m. but haven’t eaten since 7 a.m., you’re asking your body to run on empty.

Because most of us workout in the morning or late afternoon, breakfast and lunch are our most important meals of the day. But what’s an athlete to eat? Energy-rich carbohydrates, such as bagels, oatmeal, cereal, and bananas, are your best bet. Other good choices include bean or broth-based soups, sandwiches with lean meats and low-fat cheeses, thick-crust pizza topped with vegetables and fruit yogurt.

If you’re planning to go to the gym after work, steer clear of high-fat lunches that fill your stomach but leave your muscles hungry for the carbohydrates they need. Smart snacking is a great way to curb the impulse to eat a heavy lunch. Keep a supply of low-fat crackers, sports bars, dried and fresh fruit, and pretzels within reach.

Of course, you have the most control when you pack your own lunch. But if you find yourself heading to a restaurant with friends, keep these tips in mind. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets and restaurants that specialize in fried foods. Order pasta with fresh marinara sauce, rather than heavy cream sauces. Ask for your salad dressing on the side so you can control the portion. Opt for baked or broiled entrees, rather than fried or sautéed, and eat your bread without butter.

Just as breakfast and lunch are essential components of your daily eating plan, stretching is an essential component of your workout plan. The following stretch targets your inner thigh muscles. Always stretch your muscles lightly following your warm up, and include more extensive stretching in your post-workout cooldown.

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Extend your leg directly to the side, with your knee facing forward. Bend your supporting leg, tip forward from the hip, and place your hands on your thigh for support. Allow your hips to release and point your tailbone out behind you to keep your back straight and your chest lifted as you stretch. Hold the stretch at the point of mild tension for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing naturally. Repeat on the other side, and continue alternating sides as desired.