Let me be brutally honest with you. What you put into your body, the time you put it into your body, and the amount you put into your body MATTERS! If you are anything like my clients, you want to lose body fat, get stronger, build muscle, feel better about yourself, and be happier when you look in the mirror. We all do. But like many of my clients, you underestimate the important role that food plays in achieving these goals. YOU CANNOT OUT TRAIN A BAD DIET.
During the next series of blog posts, I’m going to cover pre and post workout nutrition facts that you must understand in order to get as much out of your workouts as you put into them.
This post will cover your stop at the pump before you set off on your road trip.
I’m talking about the food that you put into your body before you set out to tackle your workout. This is your pre-workout nutrition.
If there is only one thing you take away from this post, it’s that regardless of the time of day of your workout, it’s critical that you eat something beforehand.
Believe me, I work with a ton of different people at different times of the day, with different circumstances that may not allow them to get an energy source into their system prior to a workout. But you have to find a way. No real food around? Get a solid meal replacement supplement; grab the one I use here.
You wouldn’t attempt a cross country road trip with your car’s gas needle hovering above E, so why would you try to push your body through a strength and conditioning workout while your body's fuel sits on E?
If you fail to consume proper nutrients before a workout, your body will reach to your muscles and start breaking down all the strength you’ve been working so hard to build, negating all of the hard work you’ve put into looking better, feeling better, losing weight and getting stronger. And you continue to tread water, while not making the progress you’d hoped for…
Let me drop a little watered down science on you real quick:
Carbohydrates play a critical role in fueling exercise, either by being the primary energy source to fuel anaerobic (high intensity without oxygen) exercise. The body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates in the muscle and liver. Thus, during high intensity training, carbohydrates can provide energy for only a relativley short duration of time.
During exercise, energy will be used from carbohydrate and fat sources.
Proteins are comprised of amino acids and serve as the major structural component of muscle and other tissues in the body. Although proteins can be used as a source of energy, it is not desireable as it likely means that the body is metabolizing lean tissue to compensate for an energy deficit.
Let’s look at the three most popular workout times of the day and some of my favorite meals to consume to provide your body with the fuel it needs to get the most out of your workout.
The 5:45am Bootcamp
Scenario: You just slept for 6-8 hours (hopefully, or your killing yourself slowly), you haven’t eaten for 6-10 hours (fasting), your blood sugar levels are low after helping your body rebuild itself during your shut-eye, and your metabolism is idling.
Why in the world would you think that after fasting for 6-10 hours, metabolism idling, and your body in a resting state, it would be a good idea to go and try to give it all that you’ve got without stopping at the pump to fill up?
The Risk: Running out of gas
Nausea, excessive sweating, the jitters, weakness, blurred vision, dizziness, poor coordination, and rapid heartbeat are all symptoms that can occur because you didn’t eat before your workout. These symptoms are usually caused by low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Blood sugar levels are usually at their lowest in the morning because they drop drastically while we sleep.
Lesson learned, hypoglycemia sucks, makes you feel like crap, and doesn’t help your workout.
Let’s Eat: Here are my favorite suggestions for quick delivering nutrients for the 5:45am Bootcamp:
Quick digesting carbohydrates and protein; this super fast roll-outta-bed shake will boost your metabolism, spike your blood sugar level, and provide fuel to your body to enhance your workout production. 1-2 cups orange juice 1 or ½ cup water 1-2 scoops whey protein powder
You could go in this direction too if you’re a dairy fan:
1-2 cups chocolate milk instead of orange juice
If you’re a Rise and Grinder like I am, and give yourself an hour and some change before Bootcamp, opt for something a little more filling and nutrient dense. Try these: 1 cup Greek yogurt 1 serving berries 1/4-cup oatmeal
OR 1 cup Greek Yogurt 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
Lunchtime and After-work Workouts
The next two popular workout times we’ll blend together since they both represent later-in-the-day workouts and provide ample time in front of them to front load nutrients; and because I could go on and on about nutrient timing for 43 more pages.
Exercising later in the day gives you the opportunity to gas up your tank a few times, igniting your metabolism and providing you enough fuel to conquer your workout.
For both of these workouts, your pre-workout doesn’t have to be as complex as the one for your morning workout because you’ve already been up, awake, around and fueled.
The Risk: You didn’t eat anything after breakfast and your breakfast was not fulfilling because it consisted of some kind of processed crap.
What you need to know here is that you need to eat, again. One hour to two hours prior to your workout, eat a meal as you would normally. No, not a “snack”- not the apple with peanut butter, "I call this eating healthy", snack. It’s not the best snack nor is it all that great of a combo.
Let’s Eat: Cause we love food and food is our body's fuel.
The Noon-time Workout
Eat by 10:30 at the latest. This should be your second or third meal of the day by now, depending on how early you wake up in the morning. Here are a few examples; and as always, get as natural as possible. Sweet potato Chicken breast
OR Plain oatmeal Greek Yogurt Mixed berries
OR Egg Burrito (keep it easy) Include: Whole eggs, brown rice, and salsa
The Just Punched the Clock Workout - 5pm or later
Most people suck at eating healthy and usually think the salad they ate for lunch was nutritious and energy providing. Sorry, but that’s generally not the case.
The same rule applies here as it does for your Noon Workout; eat a healthy meal one hour and a half to two hours out.
Again, depending on what time you opened your eyes, this should be meal number 3, 4, or 5 and should pack good, clean, from the ground carbohydrates that will sustain energy for your workout. You’ll need a good combo of carbohydrates and protein to pack sustained energy for your evening workout. Try these, Bacon, egg, and cheese A couple pieces of fruit (who said you could only east breakfast in the morning?)
OR Hardboiled eggs Fruit
OR Plain oatmeal Greek Yogurt Mixed berries
OR Brown rice Lean meat Veggies
Although studies have found that protein consumption within an hour after the training session can enhance protein synthesis (growth or building) within the skeletal tissue to a greater degree than later feedings, there does appear to be a greater benefit in a pre-exercise ingestion.
I think you recognize the pattern here… Please tell me you do, if not, go back to the top and re-read all over again.
When in doubt, remember these three rules: 1. YOU MUST GET CARBOHYDRATES AND PROTEIN INTO YOUR BODY 90-120 MINUTES PRIOR TO WORKING OUT. 2. IF IT’S EARLY MORNING, YOUR BEST OPTION IS A SHAKE MIXED WITH FRUIT JUICES TO PROVIDE A BLOOD SUGAR SPIKE SO YOU’LL AVOID LOW BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS 3. KEEP IT SIMPLE
I hope you learned something from this post. I’d enjoy reading your comments, thoughts, and questions. Leave a line below and I’ll answer them accordingly. Also, if you have a friend, family member, coworker, or someone you just met who you think could get a little something out of this, be nice and share it with them.
Dedicated to your strength and health, Carmen