Monday, March 22, 2010

To Fast Before Cardio or Not...that is the question...

Should You Eat Before A Workout? by Tinamarie Guaglianone

I get this question from clients ALL the time, and almost everyday people ask me what I do before a workout. First I always tell my clients that if they are training 2 hours after they have been awake, then YES! They need to BREAK THE FAST! You can't expect to come to one of my sessions on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and get a great workout. Our body is in a fasted state when you wake up. Just like driving a car with no gas won't get you far...your belly is your tank and your food is your gas. And ladies--don't think you will burn more fat this way--YOU WON'T! Your body is smarter than you think!

The bottom line is this: when you eat carbohydrate-rich foods before you exercise, you will perform better--mentally and physically--during your workout. I am not saying to go inhale some donuts from Dunkin' Donuts or to have 3 bowls of cereal either! I am talking oats, whole-grain toast with some sugar-free jam, a Fit Green Goddess get my point!

The question then becomes - what works best for your body?

Do you have a sensitive stomach in the morning? Usually don't eat breakfast? Then choose low-fiber and low-fat foods before beginning your workout. Skip the peanut butter and high-fiber dry cereals before your workout. Fat and fiber hold food in the stomach longer and with your sensitive stomach, you want the food that you eat before a workout to be digested and out of your gut when you start exercise. Best low-fat, low-fiber foods:

*Low-fat yogurt
***Ezekiel Toast (try the cinnamon-swirl with raisins - it's delish)

Trying to burn fat? OK--so it is true that exercise on an empty stomach allows you to burn SOME fat during exercise. This does not mean a reduction in body fat. When your body is using carbohydrate to fuel exercise, it means that you are burning more calories per minute. When carbohydrate isn't available, your intensity drops-- both physically and mentally. Exercise on an empty stomach generally feels much harder. Choose a satisfying meal or snack, but keep the high-calorie additions to a minimum if you are trying to lose body fat. Give yourself 30-60 minutes to digest and then hit a high intensity workout. Best lower-calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods to blast fat:

*1/3 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, topped with 1 Tbsp. raisins and cinnamon
*Toast with light spread of almond butter and preserves
*Greek Yogurt with 1/2 cup Fit Green Goddess Granola

What about protein intake to build muscle?

Eating protein-rich foods before exercise won't necessarily lead to bigger muscles. Focus your attention on protein-rich chicken, salmon, turkey, and Greek Yogurt for after your workout when your muscles are more receptive to the powerful muscle-building effects of protein.

Before any workout, you need carbs. Carbohydrates are your "GAS" for exercise--especially high-intensity workouts like running and weight-lifting. You will blow through your glycogen (energy) stores during a run or heavy lifting workout. When glycogen levels get low, mental and physical energy will drop. When trying to build muscle, it's a good idea to incorporate small amounts of protein into every meal and snack, provided that you aren't sacrificing carbohydrates. Choose pre-workout meals and snacks that provide carbohydrate and a bit of protein for extra calories to build lean mass. Best muscle-building options:

*Hummus with cucumber and tomato slices on Ezekiel toast or an Ezekiel wrap
*Oatmeal with fruit and a 3-egg white omelet
*Baked yam & 4 oz. grilled chicken breast

Prime your body for exercise by choosing carbohydrate-rich foods for your pre-workout meal. When possible, give yourself at least 30 minutes to digest the food and absorb the nutrients. Experiment with which foods work best for your body.

And to answer your question...I (Tinamarie) workout around the same time each day which is between 10:30 am & 1:00 pm, because that is when I have the most energy. I have already had my Fit Green Goddess Shake and my Lara Bar (3 hours later) all before I workout, so I have enough stored carbs and energy for my runs and/or workouts.

Post-run or workout, I have either another shake (no fat added) and/or an Ezekiel wrap with a veggie burger and some veggies on the side and to top it off, a sliced pear or some Goji berries! YUM!

To those reading this post - only YOU know what works BEST for you! Everyone is different - so the suggestions here may not be for everyone. Every one's individual physique/internal chemistry is different.


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