You must have noticed that fit people can do things that unfit people can’t! But in their endeavour to become fit, most people do not eat the right food required for specific exercises and hence are not able to get the desired benefit from their workout sessions. If you want to maximise fat burning, keep in mind the following points:
Begin any cardio activity: In order to burn fat, you need to do cardio activity like brisk- walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or any racquet sport for at least 30 minutes.
Reduce carb intake : In a cardio workout, the goal is to maximise fat loss. However, the body tends to first burn glucose rather than fat. So the availability of glucose (carb) needs to be minimised.
The best time to walk is on an empty stomach: It is only when your level of muscle and liver glycogen stores are low that your body begins to burn fat. Hence, cardio training needs to be done, preferably, on an
empty stomach. However, you may take lime water or coconut water to hydrate yourself before the walk.
Food intake before the cardio workout:
The only way to achieve a toned body is to make sure that you walk briskly for at least 30-40 minutes on a reasonably empty stomach. So eat your meal two to three hours before you begin to walk. The meal should have adequate protein and less complex carbohydrates. So, eat the following:-
100 grams of paneer with two chapattis and vegetables.
Egg bhurji with two chapattis and vegetables.
Soya granules with two chapattis and vegetables.
This will give you protein and carbs in the ratio of 1:1 or 1:2, which is ideal, and it should be taken 2-3 hours before a cardio workout. This provides adequate protein to prevent muscle tissue breakdown and adequate carbs to fuel the workout. During the cardio workout, you may take sips of water (up to 100ml) in case you sweat a lot. This will help prevent dehydration.
Food intake after cardio workout: You should delay eating anything for at least 45 minutes after cardio. During the workout you must avoid drinking any glucose solution, as your aim is to make the body burn its fat stores. If you drink a glucose solution, it will be used first and the body will not burn fat.
After 45 minutes of cardio workout, keep your carbohydrate intake low and take twice as much of protein. You may choose to take a protein shake or a glass of milk or a cup of curd. If you are hungry, add egg whites and paneer to your meal along with a bowl of dal.
The only way to burn more fat is to follow a proper food plan before and after your workout and make sure that your exercise programme gets progressively difficult. This means that if you are not used to walking, begin walking! If you are used to walking for 30 minutes, increase to 40 minutes and so on… As you increase the intensity of your workout and follow the above nutritional guidelines, you begin to burn fat more effectively!
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre