So you’re trying to make good on your New Year’s resolution to put down the shawarma and pick up some weights. But after a month, you can’t see results (nor your toes). Fear not, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has your back (and belly) with a dozen new programs about nutrition for exercise.
Exercising and healthy eating go hand-in-hand, and you’re unlikely to reach your desired workout results without a healthy meal plan, warns the DHA. Planning to burn 600 calories during your work-out? Then swallow a snack packing 300 calories. You read that right. They claim that a healthy pre-exercise nibble should contain 50% of the calories you expect to burn, ideally made up of about 30% protein, 55% carbs and 15 % fats.
DHA-suggested examples start out sensibly enough with nuts with yogurt, and hummus and veggies, but then escalate to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and yogurt smoothies – menu choices that likely led you to the treadmill to begin with.
But here’s where their plan really derails: they also recommend a second snacking after your workout – again, loaded with half of the calories you’ve just burned off. The DHA smartly urges that ample water be drunk throughout the workout, but goes on to state that your exercised body is in “recovery mode”, requiring a nutrient dense meal to stay in best health.
“In 2013, we noticed that although some of our patients were regular with exercise but they were following incorrect practices such as not consuming water during exercise, consuming unnatural protein sources etc.,” said Wafa Ayesh, DHA Director of Clinical Nutrition, “We then realized that it is important to educate people about correct nutrition especially before and after exercise so that they can see positive results and be healthy. People need to understand that exercise and healthy eating go hand-in-hand.”
Exercise boosts metabolism, which means that after your workout your body at rest will burn more calories than it would had you not exercised. But to sandwich workouts between meals that replace in total the calories you just spent sounds like flabby fitness advice. Especially in the Gulf states which are producing a bumper crop of obese and diabetic people.
In its weekly Twitter clinic, the DHA announced it will carry out several awareness campaigns at walking tracks throughout the emirate over the next 3 months.
They’ve set up booths at Dubai’s various walking venues where they will be addressing topics such as nutrition for athletes, ideal foods to consume before and after exercise, and the hazards of energy drinks. They will also give free health screening for Body Mass Index, blood sugar and blood pressure. Find them at these locations on the specified dates:
- Zabeel Park, Gate 3: 4 to 6 PM on January 19, February 16, March 16, and April 6
- Al Khawaneej: 4 to 6 PM on January 26, February 23, and March 23
- Hatta Park: 11 AM to 1 PM on February 9 and March 9
And if DHA is to be believed, bring plenty of snacks.
Image of athlete eating rice from Shutterstock