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Give your body the fuel it needs for a good workout

So, you have your exercise routine down pat. You're doing your cardio workouts four or five days a week and having a go at strength exercises several times a week. But are you giving your body the fuel it needs to do all that?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, "Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance and improve recovery time. Athletes should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses."

Exercise and good nutrition make for good teammates: exercise for keeping our bodies in good working order and good nutrition to provide the energy needed to perform the exercises. Glucose, which is pulled from carbohydrates, is our best form of energy. Carbohydrates are used by our bodies as a long-term source of energy. They are generally high in dietary fiber and digest slowly.

Regardless of which physical activity you perform, carbohydrates provide the fuel for muscle contractions. A banana with a tablespoon or two of peanut butter, string cheese or a turkey or chicken sandwich are good preworkout snacks.

Some people become a little too restrictive in regards to dietary balance, limiting calories and avoiding carbohydrates under the assumption that all carbs lead to fat. Not all carbs are the cause of fat. It's excessive carbs that are the problem.

Protein is another essential nutrient for anyone committed to exercising. One of protein's primary jobs is to repair muscle tissue that has been damaged during a workout and build new muscle tissue, creating stronger and more functional muscles. While it is good to have a little protein before a workout, it is most needed for muscle recovery soon after exercising. It's also good to have some carbs immediately after a hard workout to replenish the glycogen that has been used while exercising.

If you're looking for a recipe that's chock-full of healthful protein and carbs, consider this easy soup, a family favorite, from Taste of Home's Big Book of Soup. (The kidney beans are my own addition.)

Mexican Chicken Soup

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

2 teaspoons canola oil

1/2 cup water

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 (32-ounce) bottle of V8 juice

1 (16-ounce) jar salsa

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn, thawed

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans

Saute chicken in oil until no longer pink. Add water and taco seasoning and simmer until chicken is well coated. Transfer to a slow cooker.

Add V8 juice and all other ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 3 or 4 hours. Optional: Serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream and cilantro.

To shorten the cooking time, use rotisserie chicken and cook the soup on the stove.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at [email protected]

Reverse lunge with single arm press: Targets the core, shoulders, hips and thighs.

Standing tall, feet shoulder width apart, hold a weight in your left hand with your palm facing in.

Keeping your back straight, take a step back with your left leg and lower your body until your right thigh is parallel, or near parallel, to the floor, lifting your left heel.

As you lower your body, press the weight straight above your shoulder without locking your elbow.

Return to standing position and lower the weight to your shoulder.

Do eight to 10 repetitions before repeating the exercise on the other side.

Tip: Keep your abdominals contracted during the exercise.

Wood chop with knee lift: Targets the core and hips and helps with balance.

Standing, hold one weight overhead, parallel to the floor, with both hands.

Twist to the left side, slightly pivoting with your right foot.

Exhale while bringing the weight diagonally across your body as you lift your right knee, bringing the weight to the outside of your right hip. Twist from the hips rather than the torso.

Return your arms to the original position while you return your right leg to the floor, lightly tapping your toes. Do eight to 12 repetitions before repeating the exercise on the other side.

V-sit with single-arm chest fly: Targets the core, chest and arms.

Sit with your knees bent and your heels on the floor.

Hold weights chest level with a slight bend in your elbows, palms facing in. Contract your abdominals for back support and lean back a few inches, keeping your spine straight.

Holding the left arm in place, bring the right arm, elbow slightly bent, toward your right side, not letting the weight go beyond the shoulder. Return your right arm back to the center of your chest.

Do eight to 10 repetitions with the right arm before repeating the exercise on the other side.

Tip: Do not use a weight that is too heavy.

Give your body the fuel it needs for a good workout 08/21/17 [Last modified: Monday, August 21, 2017 12:07pm]
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