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
This gallery contains 1 photo.
*The name of the person involved has been kept anonymous out of respect for privacy*
I had first heard of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon while on vacation in 2012. I met a fellow runner in the lobby of the resort I was staying at. During our conversation it was discovered we are both runners and we remained in that lobby at least 2 hours discussing races,trainings; the works. We both had only run half marathons at that point. We made arrangements to go on a run together the next morning. Before we parted ways he mentioned a trip he took to Chicago for his birthday. He had made the Chicago Half Marathon and Marathon a part of his birthday trip. At the time I had never thought about running a marathon. I was still keeping to my 13.1 mile races and 10Ks. We finally went on our separate ways and met up for our morning run.
It was a short 3 mile run but was torture because of the grueling desert heat. It felt like my insides were on fire. He didn’t have water so I gave him one of my bottles along the run. We hung together for part of the run. He began to fall back. It seems he had a bit much to drink the night before and the heat combined with the alcohol, had completely dehydrated him. He began to walk some. He told me to go on ahead and he would catch up. Ultimately, I completed the run and had to go back for him. I had a nice tall bottle of water in hand. We laughed about it later on. We still keep in touch and have even met up for a race once. I love meeting new people especially runners. Runners are in a class of their own, a different breed. In any event, that is how I first heard of the B of A Chicago Marathon.
As I said earlier, running a full marathon, let alone Bank of America Chicago Marathon, never crossed my mind. It hadn’t until this year. It was brought back to my attention by my sister friend, my soror who is also a marathon runner and body builder. My soror and I met on the National Black Marathoner’s Association Face Book Organization Page. We soon after met up for a track workout. I admit she kicked my butt. I could tell this was something of a walk in the park for her. She has a very strong core and power house leg strength from body building. That was a good workout. I needed someone to run with to make me step up my game. She most certainly made that happen.
A couple months went by before hearing from her again. I was glad to receive the call. What I didn’t expect was the request. She asked me if I would run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with her. (By this time I had run my first full marathon in December 2012, Rock ‘N’ Roll Vegas Marathon). I actually was honored as well as surprised she thought of me. Remember we hadn’t spoken for a while. She began to tell me that she had recently been told by her doctor that she would have to give up running because of a heart condition. That she wants the B Of A Chicago Marathon to be her last race of the 2013 year. She went on to tell me that she is still in training for body building competitions and would begin training for B of A soon after the body building competitions were over. I immediately said yes! This meant giving up my 10 medals from the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon series. I was going to run 5 marathons to earn not only the 5 medals from doing all the races but the extra 5 for completing so many within a year. However, running with my sister friend and soror, in what would be her last race forever,is more important.
Both of us eagerly waited for the first day of registration. Knowing it would be difficult to do so with the thousands of runners that would be registering at the same time. Bank of America Chicago Marathon is a Boston Qualifier (BQ). It is said to be a very flat and fast course. Some of everybody from everywhere would be waiting to register.
Well we were right about the huge amount of runners registering all at once. There were so many, that the system crashed. Before it crashed runners were being doubled billed or bounced off the registration site. Despite the attempts of the registration host, the system could not be brought back up. Then the email came from B of A registration host. Registration could not be open until further notice. Those who were doubled billed had their money refunded and were able to keep their registration. A second email quickly came that said the only fare way to fill the left over 1500 slots was to do a lottery. My sister friend and I were unsure how this would play out. We were not just running together but rooming together. We talked and decided to go for the lottery with hopes we both get in. Soon after the lottery opened we quickly put our names in so not to miss the deadline. We waited. I still didn’t know if I would officially register if I made it. What if I got in and she didn’t? I was also worried about being able to afford to go. I had to quickly remind myself this is for her. Make it happen. Pray on it.
Eventually everyone was contacted by another email. I got in! I was so excited. I didn’t register right away. I wanted to call my soror first to see if she made it in also. There was a deadline given to sign up. So I had time. I called; luckily she was available to answer her phone. THANK GOD! She made it in also. We were both happy we could exhale. Next, find a hotel closest to the start and air travel.
I never knew when I would run another marathon. I knew I wanted to. It seems this one is meant to be. I’m so glad she asked me to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with her. I wouldn’t have thought of registering if it wasn’t for my sister friend...my soror and fellow runner.
Since she asked me to do this with her, I have ran 2 more marathons; totaling 3 marathons under my belt; in this case, compression tights. All of them completed between December 2, 2012 and June 2, 2013; December 2012 - R’N’R Vegas, May 18, 2013 - Rohring Rock, June 2, 2013 - R ‘N’R San Diego. Two more scheduled this year, The Ventura Marathon in September 2013 and the grand finale…Bank of America Chicago Marathon October 2013.
Even though I rejoice in this news, I am saddened that my soror will no longer be able to pound pavement or kick up dust on the trails. I will use my legs to carry her with me on the roads, trails and all weather tracks. I don’t know if I could handle not being able to run again. I love it so much. The sun on my skin, wind in my hair, cool night breezes, early morning fresh air and the waves and smiles of other runners as they speed by me. Running is as much a part of my life as breathing. It is one of the very few things that make me happy and comforts me at the end of a long day or restless sleep.
Thank you and runner’s love to my sister friend, my soror and a true runner...An athlete.