Mountain Bicyclist in a Green Meadow

In my practice I meet a lot of individuals who are exercising strenuously in effort to lose fat or grow muscle without nourishing their bodies adequately to allow for this type of routine.  Besides the obvious “overdoing it”, there are also three main nutritional reasons why exercise can make you feel worse than no exercise:

Problem #1: Dehydration.  Even if you drink water during your workout, you may be starting off dehydrated if your main daily beverage is caffeinated. Coffee, black tea, colas and certain ‘energy’ sodas have a dehydrating effect on the body’s water supply, taking your water-soluble nutrients with it. This is why dehydration is known to increase risk of muscle fatigue and cramping, two things that will pull the plug early on your session.

Tip: Start hydrating first thing in the morning. Drink at least 2 glasses of water (250 ml x 2, or 8 oz. x 2) upon rising. Not only will this rehydrate your cells before your morning coffee, it will flush out toxins your body prepared for excretion. For every cup of caffeinated beverage you drink, consume at least 1 cup of water.

Problem Half Coconut and Flower on Bamboo Mat --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis#2. Electrolyte imbalance or deficiency.  This is why plain water isn’t enough.  It is through heavy perspiration that strenuous exercisers lose a significant quantity of electrolytes—electrically charged, ionized minerals. Consisting of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, electrolytes maintain and carry electrical impulses across cell membranes from one cell to another as a form of communication between muscle cells and between nerve cells. Without a balance between electrolytes, physical and mental performance is compromised, especially in hot temperatures and/or during intense exercise. Deficiency is associated with muscle cramping, twitching, nausea, headache and an irregular heart beat.

Tip: Unsweetened coconut water with a pinch of sea salt is a natural alternative to the brand-name, artificially- coloured and flavoured electrolyte beverages  on the market. Coconut is one of nature’s  highest sources of potassium.  (You can buy unsweetened boxed coconut water in health food stores to save yourself the trouble of handling a whole coconut.) Remember to add the pinch of salt for balance because one mineral cannot do the job of and strawb

Problem #3: Not enough calories eaten. If you are eating too little in the way of quick-burning calories (energy) you may find yourself dizzy, tired or lacking stamina.   Maybe you are the type who can exercise on an empty stomach, but even if you are, you need to make sure your body has some stored  fuel on reserve to provide energy. This stored fuel can be in the form of glycogen (from eating carbohydrates) or fat.

Tip:  Eat some low-glycemic fruit before you hit the gym.  It is digested rapidly, won’t weigh you down and provides the brain and muscle fuel you need.  You will burn off the sugar during your workout.

As you can see, the most common causes of workout fatigue are easy to address. However, there are other reasons you may find yourself feeling flagged. Together, a personal trainer and a registered nutritionist are a good team to help you identify the culprits.




By Andrea

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