- Foods to Fuel Your Workout
- 5 energizing foods to fuel your workout
- 3. Maintain energy
- Foods to fuel your workout
- 10 Unexpected Foods to Fuel Your Workout
- The Best Ways to Fuel Your Workouts Might Surprise You
- Water: Not just for hydration
- What to eat before morning workouts
- Daily meal plan ideas
- Post-workout recovery
- Best food picks
- Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout
- Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle
- Carbs Help With Recovery
- Fat Is Not That Bad
- Food to Fuel Your Workout
- 5 Pre-Workout Foods to Boost Your Energy For The Gym
- 5. Almond Butter
- 4. Blueberries
- 3. Protein Balls
- 2. Greek Yogurt
- 1. Oatmeal
- Fuel Your Fitness: How to Eat to Maximize Your Workout
- 1. Eat healthy fats. (A LOT of them!)
- 2. Eat before you work out.
- 3. Wait 30 minutes to eat after your workout.
- 4. Take supportive supplements.
Foods to Fuel Your Workout
Whether you're heading out for a morning jog or going to a midday spin class, knowing what to eat before your workout can make or break your exercise routine.
Preworkout foods should be high enough in calories to sustain the intensity of your workout, but the meal shouldn’t be large enough to slow you down, says Franci Cohen, a personal trainer, certified nutritionist, and exercise physiologist in Brooklyn, New York. “Fuel your body; don’t drag it down,” she advises.
According to Cohen, the perfect meal before exercise should be low in fat, moderate in easily digested carbohydrates and protein, and low in fiber, and it should contain some water.
Here’s why this combination works: Carbs are stored in the liver and muscle for energy use, and protein (amino acids) is the building material of muscles and is needed to keep your red blood cells healthy. Those cells carry oxygen to your working muscles, Cohen explains.
Water is essential to replenish the electrolytes and fluids lost when you sweat during exercise.
Of course, the best thing for you to eat (and the best time to eat it) also depends on the intensity of your workout. Marathon runners often have a big pasta meal the night before a race. The reason is simple, says Cohen.
Carbs are broken down and stored as glycogen in muscles and the liver, but this process takes time — digesting a big meal can take from three to five hours. “While we sleep, the body undergoes this digestion,” Cohen says.
“By the time we wake up, the storage is complete — we're all set and fully fueled for the big race!”
But you don’t have to run marathons to be mindful of what you eat and when you choose to exercise.
Foods for Morning Workouts
If you’re up at first light and to run with the roosters, should you eat something beforehand or head out on an empty stomach? “There’s conflicting data on the subject,” says Cohen.
“One school of thought maintains that ‘fasting aerobics’ (exercising at 75 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate without eating) is best.
It’s thought that your body will burn stored fat because it can't burn your breakfast.”
In fact, a small study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that exercise before breakfast gives you an advantage.
Ten overweight, sedentary men took part, and each underwent three trials: eating breakfast and not exercising, walking briskly for an hour before breakfast, and doing the same workout after breakfast.
The researchers found that exercising before eating resulted in a larger fat loss and lower levels of fat in the blood than after-breakfast exercise. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that before or after meals, exercising was better than skipping workouts altogether.
The opposing school of thought maintains that if you eat first, your body will have more energy, so you’ll be able to work harder and thereby get a bigger payoff from your workout.
“Both schools of thought have been substantiated through well-designed clinical trials, so the bottom line is, It’s totally up to you,” Cohen says. If you choose to eat beforehand, think of it more as a snack than a meal.
Cohen suggests a handful of whole grain cereal, a glass of skim milk, and a few raw almonds — just enough to get you fueled and on your way.
If you do opt to eat, keep the timing in mind as well. Generally, feeding your body a combination of carbs and protein one to three hours before exercise is ideal, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“If you plan on grabbing a light breakfast and rushing off to the gym, your body will not have sufficient time to digest your food before exercising,” says Cohen. This can lead to cramping and other intestinal distress.
If you’re tight on time, Cohen advises that you stick with simple carbs, which are broken down easily (in the small intestine), instead of proteins and fats, which take longer to break down and are digested in the stomach.
Foods for Midday Movers
If you’re motivated to exercise in the middle of the day, Cohen says you need a super lunch to get you through your workout and to prevent a three o’clock slump. That’s when blood sugar dips and you find yourself struggling to make it to five.
“You want a lunch that will keep you happy, energized, and smiling straight through until dinnertime,” she says. She suggests an oldie but goodie: ants on a log. Spread some almond butter or low-fat peanut butter into a few celery sticks. Top with a row of raisins.
Throw a hard-boiled egg onto the plate, says Cohen, and you’ve got a combination that “provides slow-release energy, enabling you to power through your workout from start to finish.”
Foods for Evening Exercise
“If you’ve made it through the day and still have the energy to work out, then hats off to you,” says Cohen. In the evening, your circadian rhythm is already preparing the body for sleep.
Sleep hormones are kicking in, and energizing hormones are being suppressed, so you’ll need a boost to jump-start a workout. “My top pick is green apples,” says Cohen. They provide a modest amount of sugar and valuable pectin fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
That means you'll avoid blood sugar peaks and crashes. “Add a few almonds or a glass of skim milk,” Cohen suggests, “for more protein.”
Whether you work out in the morning, at noon, or at night, tired muscles need to be refueled afterward. A combination of carbs and protein eaten within about 20 minutes of exercise will do the job best. Reach for these satisfying suggestions from Cohen to fuel your body and prepare it for your next workout:
- Greek yogurt with natural granola and fresh strawberries
- Whole-grain cereal with skim or low-fat milk
- Fresh turkey breast on a multigrain rice cake with some leafy greens and tomato
- A smoothie made with almond milk or skim milk and lots of fresh fruit
- An egg-white omelet with spinach and mushrooms and a slice of whole-grain toast on the side
Choosing smart workout foods will leave you feeling energized rather than running on empty, both during and after your fitness sessions.
5 energizing foods to fuel your workout
What you eat before working out depends on the activity and what works best for you. Kealey recommends eating at least in the two hours before a workout in order to ensure you’ll have enough energy.
“What you eat should be carb rich, something that you know digests well, such as a peanut butter and banana sandwich, yogurt with fruit or an energy bar and water.
” Within the hour before a workout Kealey recommends a sports drink or energy chews (much gummy bears) that digest well.
3. Maintain energy
What you eat during your workout depends on the length of time you spend training. “If you are only going to do a 30-minute run you probably don’t need to eat or drink anything. When you are getting up to an hour you should have something to drink or a little bit to eat an energy chew,” says Kealey.
For workouts lasting more than two hours, Kealey recommends eating something solid to stave off hunger. Refueling after exercise is also really important and is something that a lot of people forget about.
Kealey advises that, “After exercise it’s really important to have something to drink to hydrate,” says Kealey, recommending, “a little bit of protein for muscle repair and carbs to replenish your glycogen stores (stored carbohydrates).”
Click through for five of Kealey’s all-time favourite energizing snacks. >
Foods to fuel your workout
Try this: Homemade cookies
Kealey has a favourite low-fat oatmeal cookie recipe and adds dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts and seeds.
She keeps the cookies on hand for longer, low-intensity outings ( cycling, hiking) or after a workout. They are rich in carbohydrates, and have all the important nutrients from the oats, as well as healthy fats from the nuts and seeds.
Kealey avoids eating these during higher intensity workouts, intervals, since they don’t digest as well as other foods.
Try this: Energy bars
Energy bars are a convenient source of fuel and can be carried anywhere. In her Nutrition Digest Volume 17, Kealey suggests choosing bars high in carbohydrates (about 70% or more of calories from carbs), drinking enough water and avoiding bars with trans fats.
For post-workout recovery, Kealey advises eating bars with more protein (about 8g or more per bar) to help maintain blood sugar levels. She prefers Clif Bars and says that they are great tasting, quite convenient (especially when she runs her own homemade cookies), rich in carbohydrates and tend to digest well.
Browse our best healthy energy bar recipes to find your favourite!
Try this: Energy chews
Energy chews are a great option before a workout or race, or during a more intense training session since they are easy on the stomach, says Kealey. She uses Clif Shot Bloks because “the small portion size of these chewable blocks is perfect, they’re easy to digest, and the simple sugars can provide the quick energy that muscles need.”
Try this: Fruit with Greek yogurt
Fruit with Greek yogurt is one of Kealey’s favourite post-workout snacks. “It’s great-tasting, and full of whole nutrition.
The combination is rich in carbohydrates, full of nutrients and natural disease-fighting compounds from the fruit, and has a good amount of protein and calcium from the Greek yogurt,” says Kealey.
Recent studies show that some fruit, cherries, might have anti-inflammatory benefits. These are good anytime, but especially after exercise.
Try this: Chocolate milk
Post-workout Kealey drinks chocolate milk to replenish lost fluids and replace carbohydrates that help restock glycogen stores. Milk also has protein to aid muscle repair. And most importantly, Kealey really s the taste.
• What to eat after working out
• 7 top fitness foods
• 9 superfoods to rev up your workout
10 Unexpected Foods to Fuel Your Workout
Choosing the right foods to eat before and after a workout is easier than you might think. Sports nutrition professionals know there is a time and place for fancy performance foods, but some of the absolute best edible fuels for performance are probably in your own kitchen.
Most importantly, fueling workouts is all about timing. If you have 3 to 4 hours before exercise, there’s time for a complete and balanced meal with all the proper components: heathy carbs, fat and protein.
As activity approaches, it’s wise to focus on more easily digestible foods, as you have less time to digest and convert them into energy.
Post workout needs are just as important: This is the best time to scarf both carbs and protein to replenish energy stores and give tired muscles the power to replete.
Let’s break down some of the best and ly unexpected foods to help before, during and after exercise.
Quick, portable and fast-digesting, slurping down natural sugars from applesauce can be a great way to boost performance.
Reach for applesauce before beginning your activity or during longer workouts (think more than 90 minutes) where you might need a calorie boost.
The abundance of pouches on the market make it extra easy to transport, so you can always keep some fuel nearby. Look for brands Treetop and SantaCruz with no added sugar.
Don’t listen to the noise that potatoes aren’t good for you. Spuds are a secret weapon for elite athletes around the world.
Take advantage of the naturally-existing nutrients found in spuds as a pre-workout fuel or post-workout tool for energy repletion.
Potatoes are filled with healthy carbohydrates, a key energy source for muscles, plus potassium (more than a banana) for proper muscle, cardiovascular and nervous system function.
Rice is a user-friendly, all-purpose grain that most folks tolerate well. Rice cereal can be perfect for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack. Whether it’s a bowl of Rice Chex with milk or in trail mix or a Smash Crispy Treat at half time of the soccer game, rice can be optimal fuel.
Nothing complicated here: Water is fuel. While it has no calories, it’s the medium through which all performance happens. The more you sweat the more you need to replace, and even relatively slight levels of dehydration can negatively impact your performance. Find out how much you really should be drinking.
Another healthy carb option that can fuel performance as well as post-workout recovery are oats. This grain offers up plenty of hunger fighting soluble fiber, iron and magnesium. Whip up a batch of overnight oats to munch before an early gym sesh or make some crunchy granola to sprinkle on Greek yogurt for a well-balanced recovery snack.
Who would have thought mashing healthy ingredients into balls of goodness would be so trendy? Many recipes for “energy bites” and “power balls” live up to the hype, offering a snackable combo of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut, grains and even chocolate — the possibilities are essentially endless. Find your perfect bite recipe or even mail-order tasty bites from Daily Harvest or simplyFUEL (created by a sports dietitian).
A jolt from a cup of java can give you a performance edge. The most important thing to remember is that this benefit is extremely short-lived unless accompanied by calories from food. Too much caffeine can do more harm than good (hello jitters!), but there’s nothing wrong with a small cup of coffee before a workout if it’s your thing.
Another jaw dropper: Pre-workout is the time to reach for a lower fiber bread. Spread with a little peanut butter or a bit of smashed avocado and you have handheld pre-workout snack to go.
Yogurt may seem an obvious choice but the type of yogurt should correspond with your exercise routine.
Lower protein, traditional yogurt is the best pick before a workout and higher protein Greek yogurt should be your target for post-workout. Thankfully, both offer tummy-pleasing probiotics and bone-building calcium.
It is worth noting that most varieties of Greek yogurt don’t contain vitamin D, so check labels to be sure.
Meighan Makarchuk/Getty Images
Sip on beet juice and beat your opponents! Beets are bursting with cell-protecting antioxidants, plus they are a natural source of nitrates, which may help increase blood flow and improve both muscular and cardiovascular endurance. You can find beet products canned beet juice blends from Juice Performer. Enjoy beets and beet juice in smoothies and salads. If you aren’t a huge fan of the earthy flavor, combine it with citrus!
Is Seltzer as Hydrating as Regular Water?
9 Lean Proteins You Should Be Eating
Best Protein Powders, According to Personal Trainers
The Best Ways to Fuel Your Workouts Might Surprise You
You’re committed to regular workouts. Good for you! To hit your fitness goals, you also want to think about how you fuel your body — both before and after you exercise.
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Want to burn fat? Build muscle? Either way, you need three things to help your muscles recover: good carbs, lean protein and plenty of water.
Also, don’t assume all drinks or nutrition bars touted to support fitness are actually good for you.
For example, protein shakes, which come in many varieties, are not created equal. They’re great if 1.) you drink them immediately after the workout 2.) they contain the right ingredients. Be sure that whey protein is the No. 1 ingredient. It may not taste as good, but that’s what is best for your body. Also, make sure your protein shakes contain little or no added sugar.
Another misconception is that your body needs mostly protein after a workout. You need some carbs too for muscle repair.
Water: Not just for hydration
During your workout and immediately afterward, you know to drink plenty of water. But what you may not realize is that drinking water more than put water back into your body after you sweat. You also lose electrolytes, sodium and glucose when you exercise and water helps your body recover.
What to eat before morning workouts
Should you eat before you work out in the morning? Yes, if you can. It’s good to grab something quick to eat or drink beforehand, such as fruit. If you enough time, eat a piece of toast with peanut butter or 1/2 whole wheat bagel with peanut butter.
Eating too early disagrees with some people. In this case, go for juice, which is easy on your stomach. Four to six ounces of low-calorie orange juice or fresh-squeezed orange juice will help give you the necessary energy for a workout.
Before any work out, it’s best to eat something containing carbohydrates. You want foods that will give you sustained energy; burning poor fuel is trying to run your car without gas.
Daily meal plan ideas
When you exercise regularly, or if you exercise in the afternoon or evenings, you ly have more time so your nutrition goal is to plan for that workout throughout the day.
For breakfast, aim to eat more protein, such as eggs, whole-grain or bran cereal, and toast with peanut butter or nut butter. Fruit smoothies are also good.
At lunch, include a protein source, a few more carbs and vegetables. For example, you may want to try a piece of chicken or tuna with cucumbers and peppers on the side, along with some fruit.
Finally, if you’re still craving something to eat toward the end of the day before you hit the gym, snack on an apple.
Eating within 30 to 60 minutes of your workout is critical. Not only will it help in muscle repair and recovery, but it can also reduce your body fat.
Any post-workout meal should contain a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Anyone whose goal is to build strength and muscle should eat a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein to ensure adequate muscle repair and recovery. If you’re a high endurance athlete, we typically recommend a 4:1 ration of carbohydrates to protein.
For casual exercising or someone who is 50 years or older, a good ratio is 3:1.
Best food picks
Good lean protein sources include:
- Low-fat dairy
When you’re adding carbs to your meals, consider:
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain pasta
- Whole-wheat bread
- Sweet potatoes
Knowing how to get the best fuel will make all your other workout efforts more worthwhile. Also, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout
You put a lot of effort into your workouts, always looking to perform better and reach your goals.
Chances are you've given more thought to your pre-workout meal than your post-workout meal.
But consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before.
Here is a detailed guide to optimal nutrition after workouts.
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To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it's important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity.
When you're working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged (1, 2).
After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins.
Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.
Doing this helps your body:
- Decrease muscle protein breakdown.
- Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth).
- Restore glycogen stores.
- Enhance recovery.
Bottom Line: Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate growth of new muscle.
This section discusses how each macronutrient — protein, carbs and fat — is involved in your body's post-workout recovery process.
Protein Helps Repair and Build Muscle
As explained above, exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein (1, 2).
The rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle protein breakdown (3, 4, 5).
Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue (1, 6, 7, 8).
It's recommended that you consume 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3–0.5 grams/kg) very soon after a workout (1).
Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body's ability to recover after exercise (6, 8, 9).
Carbs Help With Recovery
Your body's glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.
The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training.
For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (running, swimming, etc.), you might need to consume more carbs than a bodybuilder.
Consuming 0.5–0.7 grams of carbs per pound (1.1–1.5 grams/kg) of body weight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesis (1).
Furthermore, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time (10, 11, 12, 13).
Therefore, consuming both carbs and protein after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis (13, 14).
Try consuming the two in a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein). For example, 40 grams of protein and 120 grams of carbs (15, 16).
Eating plenty of carbs to rebuild glycogen stores is most important for people who exercise often, such as twice in the same day. If you have 1 or 2 days to rest between workouts then this becomes less important.
Fat Is Not That Bad
Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients.
While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it will not reduce its benefits.
For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk (17).
Moreover, another study showed that even when ingesting a high-fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out, muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected (18).
It might be a good idea to limit the amount of fat you eat after exercise, but having some fat in your post-workout meal will not affect your recovery.
Bottom Line: A post-workout meal with both protein and carbs will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein) is a practical way to achieve this.
Your body's ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you exercise (9).
For this reason, it's recommended that you consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after exercising.
Although the timing does not need to be exact, many experts recommend eating your post-workout meal within 45 minutes.
In fact, it's believed that the delay of carb consumption by as little as two hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis (9, 10).
However, if you consumed a meal before exercising, it's ly that the benefits from that meal still apply after training (9, 19, 20).
Bottom Line: Eat your post-workout meal within 45 minutes of exercising. However, you can extend this period a little longer, depending on the timing of your pre-workout meal.
The primary goal of your post-workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients for adequate recovery and to maximize the benefits of your workout.
Choosing easily digested foods will promote faster nutrient absorption.
The following lists contain examples of simple and easily digested foods:
- Sweet potatoes
- Chocolate milk
- Fruits (pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)
- Rice cakes
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
- Animal- or plant-based protein powder
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Protein bar
- Nut butters
- Trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)
Combinations of the foods listed above can create great meals that provide you with all the nutrients you need after exercise.
Here are a few examples of quick and easy meals to eat after your workout:
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.
- Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast.
- Salmon with sweet potato.
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread.
- Tuna and crackers.
- Oatmeal, whey protein, banana and almonds.
- Cottage cheese and fruits.
- Pita and hummus.
- Rice crackers and peanut butter.
- Whole grain toast and almond butter.
- Cereal and skim milk.
- Greek yogurt, berries and granola.
- Protein shake and banana.
- Quinoa bowl with berries and pecans.
- Multi-grain bread and raw peanuts.
It is important to drink plenty of water before and after your workout.
When you are properly hydrated, this ensures the optimal internal environment for your body to maximize results.
During exercise, you lose water and electrolytes through sweat. Replenishing these after a workout can help with recovery and performance (21).
It's especially important to replenish fluids if your next exercise session is within 12 hours.
Depending on the intensity of your workout, water or an electrolyte drink are recommended to replenish fluid losses.
Bottom Line: It is important to get water and electrolytes after exercise to replace what was lost during your workout.
Consuming a proper amount of carbs and protein after exercise is essential.
It will stimulate muscle protein synthesis, improve recovery and enhance performance during your next workout.
If you're not able to eat within 45 minutes of working out, it's important to not go much longer than 2 hours before eating a meal.
Finally, replenishing lost water and electrolytes can complete the picture and help you maximize the benefits of your workout.
Food to Fuel Your Workout
From the WebMD Archives
You want your workout to burn the most calories possible. So to really get your metabolism running, it makes sense to work out on an empty stomach, right?
Wrong! It may seem counterintuitive, but you're much better off eating a snack or small meal before you exercise.
Of course, what you choose to eat and when you eat it are important to the success of your workout — and have a profound effect on how your body uses the calories.
Let's look at the early-morning exerciser, who hits the gym soon after jumping bed. It has been hours since his last meal, and his blood glucose is at the fasting level. This person is running on empty.
When your “gas tank” is on empty, your body starts to break down amino acids from your muscle mass and converts them to glucose for energy. Instead of burning fat, you're in danger of breaking down valuable muscle tissue.
To tap into those dreaded fat stores instead, eat something nutritious before you exercise. It's also a good idea to refuel after exercising with a nutritious and hydrating beverage.
There is a wealth of evidence on the role that nutrients play on blood sugar and insulin, and their effect on your energy level.
For instance, if you get up in the morning after an eight-hour sleep and down a glass of orange juice, the simple carbohydrate in the juice rapidly sends your blood sugar to elevated heights.
This rise in blood glucose is followed by a rebound fall — leaving you feeling weak and without the necessary fuel to work out.
That glass of orange juice will do little to appease your appetite, so chances are you will also feel hungry.
Now, if you add a bowl of high-fiber cereal and skim milk to that glass of juice, instead of the surge in blood sugar you will have a nice, steady rise and a slow fall over the course of several hours. This meal, containing simple and complex carbohydrates, low-fat protein, and fiber, should give you enough energy to fuel your workout while helping to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.
Protein and fiber slow the absorption of food in your stomach. The action of these nutrients helps maintain a normal rise and fall in blood glucose and normal insulin response.
Insulin is produced in response to the amount of glucose in the blood; its role is to help get glucose into the cells. So when your blood-glucose level surges, insulin production increases, to help shuttle that extra glucose into the cells. And what goes up must come down. When your blood sugar falls, you feel hungry — even if you just ate two hours earlier.
People who eat meals of refined carbohydrates (orange juice, plain bagel with jelly) without protein and/or fiber fall into a vicious cycle of eating more calories throughout the day. This roller-coaster ride of high and low blood sugar leaves them hungry — and eating every few hours.
Some scientists believe that these rapid shifts in blood sugar and insulin cause your body to deposit more fat. Others say that it's not so much the blood sugar and insulin as the excess calories you consume. Whichever theory is correct, it's clear that simple carbs without fiber or protein are the wrong choice if you are trying to lose weight.
Sometimes we use the clock to dictate when we'll eat our next meal. A better system is to use your stomach to cue you when you're hungry. Getting in touch with hunger is one of the most effective weight-management tools. But this only works if we eat complex meals containing some protein and/or fiber.
Start by making sure that most meals and snacks contain lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and/or small amounts of fat. This type of meal or snack will help slow down food absorption, help you feel satisfied, and provide fuel to energize your physical activities.
Consider dividing your eating plan into 5-6 small meals per day. More frequent, smaller meals and snacks will keep your energy level high and your hunger at bay. This approach will prevent ravenous hunger pangs and reduce the risk of overeating — another weapon to add to your arsenal of weight-loss tricks.
To put zip in your step, choose from a variety of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats. Try to include a form of lean protein (soy, nuts, dairy, meat, fish, beans, eggs) at each meal.
Here are my Top 10 picks for healthy snacks and meals to fuel physical activity:
- Whole-grain cereal, berries, and skim or low-fat milk
- Oatmeal made with skim milk, sprinkled with crushed flaxseed
- 1/2 whole-grain bagel with peanut butter and banana slices
- Smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, and orange juice
- Poached egg on whole-wheat toast with 1/2 grapefruit
- Salad with mandarin orange slices, slivered almonds, and veggies, drizzled with olive oil
- Yogurt parfait with low-fat granola
- Apple or celery slices with peanut butter and raisins
- Meal replacement bar (Check the label to make sure it's approximately 220 calories or less.)
- Brown rice and steamed veggies sprinkled with a little cheese
Successful weight loss is all about figuring out the tricks of the trade. Find foods you enjoy, that are satisfying, and that will keep you away from the temptations of the kitchen, break room, vending machines, and drive-throughs. Simply eating the right kinds of foods in the right amounts will give you the kind of control that leads to permanent weight loss.
© 2004 WebMD, Inc. All rights Reserved.
5 Pre-Workout Foods to Boost Your Energy For The Gym
You’ve been hitting the gym for some time. You’re making it part of your regular routine and putting in the hours; always trying to bust out the right number of reps.
But after all that work, you don't feel you're maximizing your workout due to a lack of energy.
Sometimes you find your energy lacking and wondering why you can’t run as far or lift as much as you usually do. It could all come down to your diet.
Nutrition is important for every aspect of our lives.
Exercising and eating well go hand-in-hand for living a well-balanced life, but some gym-goers aren’t getting the nutrients they need to crush their goals in the gym.
While they may find themselves drinking protein-packed smoothies after their workouts, they’re not providing their bodies with the necessary fuel beforehand to maximize all the energy they’re spending.
It’s time to put a little more thought into what you eat before working out so you can reach your goals faster and feel healthier in and the gym. It won’t take much effort, and the results will be well worth it. Here are five great pre-workout foods to help you boost your energy before a workout.
5. Almond Butter
Simple. Nutritious. And oh so tasty. Almond Butter is rich in calcium, protein, and filled with the good kinds of fat. While it’s nutritionally comparable to peanut butter, almond butter is packed with even higher amounts of Vitamin E and iron, helping make the higher price tag a little easier to stomach.
For a healthy, energy-boosting pre-workout snack, all you have to do is spread some almond butter on a few apple slices, celery sticks, or try adding a Tbsp into a smoothie. And if you have a little more time, check out our delicious almond butter stuffed french toast for a delicious pre-or-post workout meal.
Having the right kind of sugar can help you excel in the gym. No, this is not an excuse to chow down on your favorite candy bar – you’re looking for the natural kind of sugar! Reach for a handful of blueberries for a sweet pre-workout snack. What makes these tiny fruits so effective for exercising is that they’re a complex carb, which helps provide sustained energy for the gym.
Another benefit of blueberries is that they’re known to improve brain function. Besides giving your memory a boost, they’ll also enhance your focus — perfect for keeping you on top of your game and staying in the zone when working out.
And if you’re wanting to start your morning off before heading to the gym, check out awesome Blueberry Banana Protein Shake.
3. Protein Balls
You’ll have to spend a little time in the kitchen (very little), but having some homemade protein balls on-hand before hitting the gym is well worth it.
Not only do they taste great, but they’re far cheaper than buying protein bars and are perfect highly-customizable snacks.
After mixing in some protein powder, feel free to add in natural peanut butter, raw honey, coconut, oats, cranberries, cinnamon, or whatever combination you prefer.
Not sure where to start? We’re a bit partial to our recipe.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt has exploded in popularity over the past few years — and for good reason. Besides being loaded with probiotics, helping keep your weight in check, and strengthening your bones with calcium and Vitamin D, Greek Yogurt is also an ideal pre-workout food.
Carbs provide that extra energy you need for your workouts and Greek Yogurt is loaded with them. Not only that, but you’ll find a healthy amount of muscle-building protein to help you blast through a run or weightlifting session. Another awesome benefit is that Greek Yogurt can stave off hunger, which is perfect for when you’re in the middle of a long workout.
Filled with complex carbohydrates to deliver slow-release energy, oatmeal is an unsung hero when it comes to pre-workout foods. Incredibly easy to make (just add hot water!) and inexpensive, make this breakfast classic one of your go-tos whenever you’re ready to hit the gym.
Pro tip: for an even greater extra energy boost, add in some protein power or a Tbsp of almond butter to your oatmeal.
And if you’re just not an oatmeal person, give this tasty recipe a chance to change your mind. Check out our Overnight Oats for a new take on an old classic.
Fuel Your Fitness: How to Eat to Maximize Your Workout
Our bodies are designed to move. We were never meant to sit still all day, and when we get ourselves moving, we feel better in every way. Our circulation and oxygen intake both improve, it revs up our metabolism, we feel happier and more mentally clear and we get stronger, fitter, and more comfortable in our bodies and clothes.
But the tricky thing is, exercise can also make us feel, well, awful — especially when we exercise without the right fuel. Maybe you went into a workout on an empty stomach.
Maybe you hit the gym on a belly full of muffins and coffee. Maybe you had a bad week of eating and are trying to counteract it with a workout.
In all these cases, your body doesn’t have the nutrition it needs to function well, let alone step up for exercise.
After these “unfueled” workouts, you’re ly to end up exhausted, discouraged, sore, and maybe even hurt. It’s you were trying to drive your car on diesel fuel. It just doesn't work! Your car sputters and stalls out, no matter how hard you slam the gas pedal with your foot. And then it costs an arm and a leg to get the darn engine fixed.
In other words, what you put in determines how you work out. Below are my four top suggestions for eating to fuel your fitness, so that you can get the most your exercise!
1. Eat healthy fats. (A LOT of them!)
I really can’t say it enough: healthy fats are required for a healthy life, from weight loss to workouts! Healthy fats lubricate and protect your joints and organs. They help your body absorb nutrients, which keep you nourished for exercise.
A body fueled up with healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, and real butter) is far more prepared to handle and recover from the stress of exercise — and to be able to use that exercise to get more fit.
That’s why I suggest having a couple tablespoons of healthy fat every time you eat — avocado, nuts, seeds, butter, your pick!
2. Eat before you work out.
Be attentive to your body when eating before exercise, so you have the right fuel to work out and feel great throughout the process. Some people can eat seconds before they start moving, while you might need some time to digest and let your stomach settle first. It can help to try some different things and experiment a handful of times to learn what works for you.
You also want to make sure to eat enough for the amount of exercise you’re about to do.
If I’m going out for a short run in the morning, I might have half a banana and a spoonful of almond butter, or half of a snack bar (I Rx Bars) before heading out.
If it’s a bigger workout, I’ll have a full meal with all three PFC macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs). A couple eggs and half a sweet potato sauteed in butter? Perfect.
Looking for more ideas for workout fuel? Check out my Ultimate Real Food Recipe Book! With the best (and most satisfying!) balanced recipes you’ll boost your metabolism and shed pounds — while giving yourself the energy to enjoy exercise AND make it count!
3. Wait 30 minutes to eat after your workout.
It’s not the best idea to eat immediately after exercising — especially if it was on the intense side. A half-hour window gets your body into a more relaxed state so you can actually digest your post-workout food, and make the most of it.
After that half-hour time frame, I recommend re-fueling with a full, balanced meal consisting of protein to aid in muscle recovery, healthy fat to support your joints and carbohydrates to replenish the ones you burned for energy and carbs to replenish your glycogen stores that you burned. This meal doesn't need to be anything special; it just needs to have all three: PFC. You could try eggs and spinach cooked in butter, a chicken breast served over a big salad with olives and feta cheese, or a filet of fish broiled in butter with cooked vegetables.
4. Take supportive supplements.
While there are a few supplements I recommend for workouts, Pure Fish Oil is one of the best. (Read about the others here!) Everyone should be taking fish oil on a regular basis for a variety of reasons, such as heart and brain health. And it has extra special importance for you and your workouts!
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can speed up the healing process after your workout (your muscles break down and need to heal to rebuild) by reducing inflammation caused by exercise-induced stress.
They can also help lubricate joints. Taking one of these soft gels at every meal is a great way to promote fast recovery, and taking a couple extra immediately after a workout will reduce soreness, too.
Now, I want to take a moment to point out that while fueling workouts in important, how much you exercise also matters. Exercise that’s too much or too hard on us stresses our bodies out, bumps up our inflammation, and can actually make us hold onto weight (that’s right: too much exercise can cause weight gain!). Read here how to moderate exercise to support your body!
Whether you’re aiming to walk around the park or bench press your personal best, exercise can be a blessing, as long as we fuel up our bodies to make the experience as positive as it can be!
Now, while fueling your fitness properly is important, exercise and food are only two parts in a multi-part equation. In order to lose weight and keep it off — for good — you’ll want to make sure you’re addressing every area! I teach you how in my free training. Check it out here!
Exercise is often more fun with a friend or a group — and so is weight loss! That’s why I’d love to invite you to join our Rule Breakers group coaching program.
With consistent education, accountability, support, and the exact weight-loss strategies I’ve have used with clients for the past 10 years, you can find the good company and trusted leaders that support your weight loss goals and the full life you want to live.
Join Rule Breakers today — because Rebels Get Results!