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Guest Column: Exercise, diet and sleep all critical parts of the equation

Guest Column by Brittni Lair

Brittni Lair is a physician assistant in orthopedics in Albert Lea. She owns CrossFit InnerDrive. She enjoys spending time with her family and boyfriend, Jens.

Working out is only part of the equation for a healthy lifestyle. The other part of the equation is the essential piece: diet. You can work out every day of the week and not see any results if you don’t pay attention to what is going in your mouth. The other end of the spectrum is the people who decide they need to withhold calories significantly along with working out. This, too, is going to prevent you from seeing results and can also be detrimental to your health.

If you expect your body to perform at a high level while severely restricting calories, it is like asking your car to run with no gas. Figuring out the caloric intake your body needs to perform the physical demands of your workout is imperative. Some people prefer to work out on an empty stomach, but this can cause you to lose energy halfway through or get dizzy during the workout. One of my personal favorite foods to eat prior to working out is applesauce. This is a quick-digesting food that is easy to eat approximately 30 minutes prior to a workout. This helps sustain a reasonable energy level during a workout.

Post workout caloric intake is also vital to get the results we’re looking for. Having a protein shake immediately post workout is a great choice for muscle rebuilding. Our muscle fibers are broken down during workouts, and the most efficient way to rebuild them is by replenishing with an adequate amount of protein. Within 30 minutes of a workout is key. Most people are not able to eat a full meal within 30 minutes of working out, which is why recovery protein shakes are important. The timing of the protein is vital. This should not be treated as a meal replacement shake.

If you are consistent with your workouts and feel as though your diet is on point, but still aren’t seeing results, there is one more thing to consider. Are you getting enough sleep? One of the most essential parts of recovery is sleep. This is the only time when the body can focus on fixing itself. During sleep, protein synthesis occurs, which aids in muscle recovery and building. Working out is great for losing weight and staying active, but it is only one part of the equation. So, next time you feel frustrated with your workouts or the progress you are making, first consider your diet and then consider how much you are sleeping.