What do you fuel up with?
I have written blogs based on what I think you want to know about. That was fine in the beginning. You know, a little something to get you started on your healthy lifestyle journey. Now...it’s time for you, yes YOU, to tell me what you really want to know about. About two weeks ago I posed the question on my Facebook business page, http://www.facebook.com/TWELLS1913 what in fitness and nutrition do you want to know about? What have you always wanted to learn about but haven't taken the time to research it, take a class on it or plane just didn't know how to get the information? Not one person answered me. Guess nobody heard of the phrase, “Closed mouths don't get fed.” Oh well...Shrugs.
Since I didn't get a response on my Facebook business page, I just took my question to the streets. The fitness and fat burning streets. Places like cycling studios, private gyms, track fields and the communities that I serve. All of them want to know, “What should I eat before and after a workout?”
Let’s explore this. First, I must tell you that everybody’s body is different. What works for me may not work for you. What works for you may not work for your workout buddy. Sometimes it’s trial and error. Meaning, you don’t know until you try it. For tummy’s sake, I will give you the basics; Light, non irritating foods that can easily be digested before, during or after a workout.
BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT
It’s always a good thing to “put something in your stomach,” as my grandmother used to say. Be sure that something is light and non acidic. Stay away from oranges, pineapple, tangerines. These fruits can be irritating to most bellies due to the way the body’s chemical makeup changes during a workout. Also, if you are allergic to citrus it can make things worse once the body warms up and the adrenaline gets to pumping and the blood flow shifts to the extremities of the body being used. That’s another blog. Since we are keeping this simple this go round, we'll save the science for another day.
Here we go! A nice healthy trail mix will do the trick. Have to get out the door fast or kick that workout into gear before work? Be sure you select a trail mix with no candy. Yes, M&M’s and peanut butter and chocolate chip pieces are tasty. However, those are unnecessary, empty calories. Here’s what I suggest. A Magnesium, Copper and Phosphorus boost: Pumpkin Seeds, Walnuts and dates. This can be eaten during and after your workout as well. I like eating it before I start my workouts because it’s light, easy on the stomach and gives me what I need to power through a 30 minute high impact interval workout or short run.
Next on the list, Whole grain cereal with protein: Look for whole-grain cereals with a minimum of 5 grams of fiber and 8-9 grams of protein. Use almond milk or coconut milk and you can get up to 30-40 percent of protein in one bowl of cereal.
Other items easy on the tummy before a workout are bananas packed with potassium, a slice of whole-grain wheat toast with ½ tablespoon of honey for carbohydrates and eggs are a good source of protein.
All these mentioned above are good if you plan on working out 30 minutes after eating. Be sure to hydrate with water. If you're eating an hour or more before working out, I suggest a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with dried or fresh fruit. Other options are Agave Nectar or Honey. No sugar or artificial sweeteners. Raw, organic honey tastes yummy. Add some cinnamon. Spices are great for boosting the immune system and blood circulation.
DURING YOUR WORKOUT
What you eat during your workout depends on your workout. This is where the “everybody’s body is different” kicks in. For example, I am an endurance athlete. There are days I have 13 to 20 mile runs. There’s no way I could, or anyone else for that matter complete that type of a workout without fueling while running. I have eaten applesauce from a pouch, dried cranberries, grapes, fruit snacks, and GU. GU is a gel formula that you squeeze from a small packet straight into your mouth while running. Much like the applesauce I mentioned earlier. It is packed full of potassium, sodium, carbohydrates and sugar. All the things the body is depleted of during such an intense training. If you're headed to the gym, going on a short easy run or taking on a 30 minute to an hour workout, you won't need stuff like GU or any other fuel with as much sodium, sugar and carbs as what I use does. That means stay away from Gatorade, Power Aid and all those other sports drinks and energy boosters. Those commercialized products do more harm than good for most people.
During your workouts try Almonds: they are an excellent source of vitamin E, an antioxidant. There aren't many food sources with an ample supply of vitamin E. The form of vitamin E in Almonds is called gamma-tocopherol; which is not usually found in supplements. This type of Vitamin E also helps protect against cancer. Another good source of energy to eat during a workout is a banana. Bananas are one of those fruits that can be consumed with little to no bellyaches. Lump this workout fuel in your anytime bag. Granola bars are a good treat during a workout. Just eat 1. We don't want to overdo it. Watch the sugar. They can restore needed potassium, magnesium, and many other nutrients our bodies use when in physical activity.
AFTER YOUR WORKOUT
This part is my favorite! Why? I can eat! In moderation and with portion control, mind you. All meals healthy. Here’s what’s fun and healthy and yummy. Non fat Greek, plain yogurt: 4-6 .oz of Greek yogurt mixed with fresh organic blueberries (Antioxidant), pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and ½ tablespoon raw organic honey ( can use Agave Nectar instead of honey), or leave the honey out because the blueberries have their own natural sweeteners (fructose). Want to spice it up, try those seeds flavored with chili powder.
Another after workout goody is fruit salad of mixed berries. Those beautifully colored compounds that give dark berries their color are antioxidants called anthocyanins-known to aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers.
After any hard, intense workout, be sure to refuel with some protein. Your body is depleted of a lot of protein when in intense exercise. You can have a protein shake. Preferably plant based or rice or pea powder. Keep clear of Soy protein. Soy has its benefits but if ingested too often it can cause hormonal imbalances in men and women. Soy can cause break through or heavy bleeding during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Just something to think about. Whey protein is good also. If your vegan you of course would use the pea or rice protein or any plant based protein powder. Beans, black rice and peanut butter, nuts and Shrimp have tons of protein.
Dinner time! There are tons of healthy choices for refueling after your workout and preparing your body for the next day’s training. Salmon: Besides being a great source of protein Salmon it is one of the best choices for getting your Omega-3 fats. Omega 3 helps to balance the body’s inflammation response, (Known to be linked to Asthma and other diseases). Add a side of stir fried veggies. Be sure to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) or Coconut oil. Peanut oil is a good choice also. Lightly circle the pan one and a half times with the oil. That’s all you need. Scratch the oil and toss those veggies in the oven for roasting for an even healthier dinner.
Eating a combination of antioxidants and beta carotenee and vitamin C, can lessen muscle soreness after hard workouts. These sources of vitamins reduce inflammation caused by free radical damage.
Well I hope this helps to get you started on leading a healthy lifestyle and properly preparing for your workouts. Whether eating before, during or after your workouts, know that you need to sustain the right amount of energy and food source (fuel) for the type of workout you're doing and the type of digestion system you have. As always never base what you do on what another person does. No two people are alike. You have a different bodily, chemical makeup than your friend or instructor or anyone for that matter. Be wise, be heart healthy, be informed and follow your training plans.
Most importantly...DO WHAT YOUR TRAINER TELLS YOU TO DO THE FIRST TIME AND YOU WON'T HAVE TO KEEP STARTING OVER.
Until next time my fitness family, Have A Fit Day!
Coach Theresa Wells (c) 2014