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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What Do You Eat Before Working Out?

I've been experimenting in the last month and a half on what helps me get through an hour-long Pilates workout best.

Heavy meals. No.

Just a piece of fruit. No.

An egg or egg whites. No.

Before I tell you what gets me--a middle-aged fat gal whose been sedentary for years--through a hard set of exercises without totally feeling a sinking fatigue, let me pass on what Duke Diet & Fitness experts suggest:

The best preworkout snack is one that includes carbohydrates, which provide an energy boost, and protein, which sustains the energy boost and helps you feel satisfied longer. Here are some ideas:

* Half a bagel with low-fat cream cheese
* An apple with reduced-fat cheddar cheese
* A banana with peanut butter
* Yogurt with berries
* A few crackers with tuna
* One slice of bread with turkey

The key is to keep your portion small — around 50 to 100 calories. Eat your snack 30 minutes to an hour before you work out, keeping in mind that the body takes a little longer to absorb the energy from foods containing fat.

And before you stock up on energy bars or other products that promise to give you a boost during your workout, take note: While these products can be a convenient option, they can also be high in calories. If you do choose a sports bar, look for small ones that contain 100 calories or less.

Okay, so, with trial and error, I've noticed that what I have approximately 1 hour before a workout DOES make an energy difference (pooping out and working less hard versus feeling more zing and putting in more effort, hence, getting better exercise and results).

This is the combo that works for me:

*Something with caffeine (a shot of espresso, a cup of regular drip coffee, a cup of green tea, or a glass of iced green tea).
*something with about 20 grams of carbs: a nice-sized banana, some fruit juice that isn't overly acidic (orange juice gives me reflux, which is an obstacle in positions where you put pressure on the tummy).
*some protein: to keep it fast, I go for something super-easy, like a protein mix that I can shake up fast in a plastic shaker cup. I've used DESIGNER WHEY, which is low-carb. I've used the Melaleuca brand mix. Now, thanks to Gym Rat's recommendation about the flavor, and my own review of its nutrients, I'm using Syntha-6. I got the strawberry flavor, and it's reminiscent of the strawberry milk of my childhood. It's nice.
*Something with potassium. If I use milk with the protein mix, that covers it. If I have a banana, that covers it. If I don't have time to eat a fruit, I just guzzle down some coconut water. That has carbs and a LOT of potassium (about 600 mg for 11 oz). This has cut down on my propensity to have cramps in certain moves.

The Starbucks Vivanno in chocolate banana flavor works for me, too--it's got the nonfat milk and banana(for the potassium double wham), the protein mix, and I request a shot of espresso for the caffeine.

It's easy to make a smoothie, too, just add the ingredients together at home in a blender: skim milk, some protein mix scoop, a banana or strawberries, and a shot of espresso in there (or a bit of green tea powder mix).

So, there ya go: caffeine, some carbs, some protein, and potassium. I try to keep clear of added fats.

So far, this has been the BEST combo for me.

What works for you?


Lori said...

What I eat depends on the workout.

If I jog in the morning right when I get up, I have 1/2 of a zone or balance bar before I go out, then a full brekkie afterwards.

For strength training, I like to do that an hour or 2 after eating, and then have something with protein afterwards (usually a latte!).

Otherwise, I exercise a couple hours after a meal normally.

Shanna said...

Depends on the work out for me too! If its going sometimes I have a waffle w/some SF syrup and a protein shake. Or just a shake.

BTW- check out my Saturday's post! There's a little something something waiting for you! =)

Chrissie said...

I have always heard that you should eat before you work out. I normally have dinner before my nightly walk.

Chubby Chick said...

The mini-meal (usually for breakfast) that keeps me going longer than anything else is this:

Natural Peanut Butter
One Slice Whole Wheat Toast
One Cup Orange Juice
Cup of Coffee


JC said...

Great tips. Thanks. I haven't been eating anything before I work out. No wonder I get so pooped out.

Shanna said...

BTW- Let me know how the Strawberry Syntha-6 tastes! I have only tried the Moccachino (excellent!). I also tried Designer Whey's Chocolate Peanut Butter (90cal, 17g Protein) Very good too! =)

Adult Weight Loss Spa said...

I agree with some of the other comments. What I eat completely depends on the workout. For me personally I usually eat something very light, like a bananna and a handful of peanuts. (I eat 5 or 6 very small meals a day so am usually not starving before a workout)

More importantly I think is eating protein within a 1/2 hour after my workout.

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