Your body is like an engine – it needs fuel to function properly. But if you want to work out regularly, not just any fuel. Rocket fuel! Choosing the right kind of juice for your journey goes a long way to make sure you are able to function optimally. When you eat properly, you get the best out of your body.

So, to keep your body functioning at its best and to get the best possible results from your visits to the gym, here are a few things to consider.

1. Aerobic and cardio exercise

These types of exercises help to increase your breathing tempo and heart rate. These activities keep your heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. Examples of these types of exercises include boxing, swimming, dancing, running and cycling.

To keep your body properly fuelled, opt for food that won’t weigh you down, but will give you the energy you need to keep going. Choose meals that are low in fat and sugar, but high in protein and carbohydrates.

A portion of seafood paella, for example, is a great choice. It contains the right balance of nutrients to keep you functioning optimally. But, remember, if you are intent on a cardio workout, make sure to eat at least an hour or two before you exercise to allow your food to be properly digested and provide the energy you need to your hard-working muscles.

2. Strength training

The term ‘strength training’ speaks for itself. The aim is to make your muscles stronger by using resistance equipment such as weights and other training gear to induce muscular contractions. This results in stronger muscles, increased bone density, a healthier metabolism and better overall fitness.

Aim for a balanced meal before you hit the weights – and make sure you have plenty of liquids on hand. This will help to prevent muscle breakdown and fatigue. Plenty of vegetables will also ensure that you receive the vitamins and minerals you need, while the proteins help to regulate growth and repair muscle tissue.

A bowl of oats with a healthy spread and a few blueberries or honey roasted nut granola, for example, will help your body to prepare for recovery from a strength workout.

3. Balance and flexibility training

Balance and flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay lithe. Yoga and Thai Chi are perfect options if you wish to boost your balance and stay flexible.

Remember that you will need a good supply of carbohydrates for stamina, as well as proteins and fats to help repair and maintain muscle tissue. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C will help keep your joints and connective tissue healthy.

Avocado and salmon on rye, or salmon, avocado and eggs on whole wheat toast will boost energy and promote muscle repair. And remember to choose healthy spreads like margarine to boost your pre-workout meals.

The great thing about balanced nutrition is you can enjoy yummy meals with purpose. So, the next time you poke your head into the fridge before a workout, consider what you are taking in. As the saying goes, you are what you eat, after all!

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