Now that we’re back for term two, and we have loads of new faces, I thought it would be a good idea to make a handy how-to guide for getting the most out of your Bollywood classes, and exercise in general. Part One is all about water and food. When to eat and drink in the time surrounding your class, and some yummy recommendations…

1. Water

Water isn’t just important during or after your class, it’s fundamental before. If you hold off drinking water for fear of getting a stitch, read how it can actually help and lead to a much better workout, and a more successful class.

Water acts as a lubricant for your muscles, joints and vital organs. Water is necessary for you to have energy during your workout because it is the transporter of oxygen and glucose throughout your body. Your muscles need water for strength and flexibility. Your joints need water to prevent stiffness and your brain needs water to send messages, like how to regulate your body temperature.’

If you are noticing you are thirsty, it normally means it’s too late. Sometimes our brain thinks the routine or workout is too hard, or the room is too hot. You may become nauseous or dizzy; you may have chills, cramps or just feel tired. These are all signs of dehydration. Sports drinks, juices and energy drinks are full of caffeine and sugar, and although these give you a burst of energy, they actually dehydrate you and are no real substitute for water (Fitday 2013). Fun fact: room temperature water hydrates better than cold water. Cold water requires to us to warm the water in order to absorb it. This uses energy, and takes longer for the water to be utilised (Metcalf 2010).

How much water you drink varies person to person according to your weight and how hard you dance. (Fitday 2013). Replenish your energy with plenty of water… If you want to get scientific, try to weigh yourself before and after your workout. It works out to be around 650mL per every 0.45kg lost (Frederick 2009). Hot tip: You can add a pinch of salt to help balance any electrolytes lost during exercise (Metcalf 2010).


2. Food

Before Class

It’s best to avoid big meals in the one-hour before class, but get to know your own body, as everyone is different! Some people need at least an hour to digest their food before a class or performance, some can gobble up a sandwich and go straight into a cardio-heavy routine, from that! Of course, it’s better to avoid high fat proteins (like peanut butter or red meat) and stick with fruits, nuts and some carbs, to get that slow-releasing energy. I recommend cashews, bananas, a mandarin and maybe a cheeky bit of chocolate (Rembrandt 2011). Worried about getting an upset stomach? Read more about GI (gastrointestinal) problems and their causes and prevention here.

After Class

Eating after exercise is about two things: recovery and storage. You need to recover the losses you undertook during the exercise, and your body is simply better at storing that recovery fuel right after your workout. Sure, you can eat later—but the benefits won’t be as good (Frederick 2009).’ Post-workout eating is important for people who exercise everyday. If you exercise 2-3 a week only, your body has a longer time to recover. It’s common to not want to eat directly following exercise, but it has great health benefits if you do!  

‘Studies have shown that 15 – 60 minutes after a workout is the optimal time to eat carbohydrate rich foods and drinks (e.g., banana, bagel, orange juice) because that is when enzymes that make glycogen are most active and will most quickly replace depleted glycogen stores in the muscles. Protein also helps with recovery in that it repairs muscle and helps with glycogen replacement. The most important nutritional strategy post workout, though, is fluid replacement. Drink water, juice, or carbohydrate rich sports drinks to replace what you sweat out.

If you aren’t used to eating before or after exercise, remember that it’s a learned behavior. You can train your body to do almost anything. Teaching your body how to use food for exercise is an important part of building your fitness. Building fitness takes time, and so does learning to eat properly. With practice and patience, you can reap the benefits of good nutrition for exercise. (Go Ask Alice 2005)’

Of course, nothing is complete without a Buzzfeed list full of lovely pics! Here are 14 gorgeous foods to eat following a workout, and why they are good for you!

References, Resources and Links!

Fitday 2013.  Why Drinking Water Can Lead to a Better Workout, accessed 1st May 2013.

Frederick 2009. Eating After Excercise: We Fully Explain the How and Why, Bodyrock, accessed 1st May 2014. 

Go Ask Alice, 2005. Is it better to eat before or after exercise, The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, accessed 1st May 2014. 

Metcalf, A 2010. 10 Common Workout Mistakes, Oprah, accessed 1st May 2014. 

Moerder, A 2013. The 14 Best Things to Eat After a Workout, accessed 1st May 2014.

Rembrandt, M 2011. What Do You Eat for Energy in Dance Class?, accessed 1st May 2014.