How to fuel your body for movement

It might seem simple, but it’s worth repeating: water is precious. According to Statistics Canada, “Water plays a role in almost all body functions and is a major component of every cell, tissue and organ. It regulates temperature, transports oxygen and nutrients through the blood, helps get rid of waste… and lubricates joints.” 

And that’s just in the everyday sense. Factor in exercise, where you’re likely to sweat, and water becomes mission critical – as do healthy snacks. 

An Ipsos’ 2016 report found that Canadians are moving to multiple “mini-meals” throughout the day, with more than 67% of all consumption occurring outside the traditional “three square meals a day” regime. In terms of snack choices, there’s mostly good news: we’re choosing fresh fruit, fresh-cut veggies and spreads such as hummus with whole grain pita. Can you guess the most consumed beverage? 

Yup, good old H20. But what is considered enough H20? This is the million-dollar question – our needs are different depending on our propensity to sweat, size, age, gender, plus the water content of the food we’ve eaten in a given day. 

There are general rules of thumb, though, and we can break them down to pre- and post-workouts. 

Pre-workout. We should be drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day rather than glugging an entire gallon just before launching into a 10k (you can also sip from your camelback or bottles mid-exercise, of course). 

Post-workout. Grabbing a refreshing drink of water should always be your go-to post sweat session. If you’ve had a particularly tough workout, reach for something that contains fluids, carbohydrates, proteins, and some electrolytes. If your stomach is still grumbling, it’s a solid sign that your body needs more, says Dieticians of Canada. This professional association recommends checking the Nutrition Facts table on the food label to ensure you continue to make smart choices. What should you look for? 

Aim high. The percent Daily Value (% DV) is the nutrient content in a specific amount of food. Anything from 5% DV and up is considered good (the higher, the better). Choose foods with a higher percentage DV of fibre, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.

Go low. Choose foods with a lower percentage DV of fat (saturated and trans), cholesterol and sodium. 

The important takeaway, friends, is please don’t “spin dry.” Stay hydrated and fuelled when partaking in all activities – biking, swimming, running, hiking.