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Hi everyone and happy Friday! I’m over on the west coast of Florida, taking an extended weekend to visit David’s parents and grandparents while they are in town visiting from New Hampshire. Today, I have a special guest post to share with you! Lauren, the creator of the 100’s to happiness is sharing with us today the best foods to eat before working out.
The Best Foods to Eat Before Working Out
Lots of us have somehow come to the conclusion that working out and eating are two things that are completely opposite of each other. Perhaps it comes from that whole thing about not eating for half an hour before swimming or the notion that working out is about losing weight and that eating is about gaining it. Those are both absolutely myths. But you don’t have to take my word for it – the experts at Duke University agree.
As a matter of fact, not only is eating before a workout not a bad idea, it is in fact a GREAT idea! Scarfing the right foods before a workout is one of the best ways to get the most out of your efforts.
Eat more, burn more
When you workout, you’re burning lots and lots of calories in a short amount of time. In your normal, not-so-sweaty life you’re also burning calories. You’re burning them right now as you read this, because those firing brain cells that are making sense of the words are using them up. But just as your brain gets foggy when you don’t eat, your body slows down when it’s starved of food.
Anyone who has worked out for any amount of time knows that there are good workouts when you push yourself and your body gets a lot done, and bad workouts where you just kind of fake it (we’ve all done it, no shame here!). Eating a moderate combination of protein and carbs before you get moving will fuel you to go faster and work harder, burning more calories, extra calories that you wouldn’t have if you hadn’t eaten. Eating makes your workouts more effective. You’ll burn far more extra calories than the few that you take in from a pre-workout snack, so your deficit will actually be greater. If you’re counting calories though, keep in mind that these do count and work them into your totals of the day. If you run too much of a deficit, your body can actually shut down and you won’t get anything done at all.
That combo of carbohydrates and protein is an important thing to focus on, but you also need to know what to avoid, and that’s fat and sugar. Eating foods that are high in fat and sugar before a workout will make most of us feel nauseous during or after. Processed foods that are full of preservatives are also a bad idea. Keep it light, keep it whole foods, keep it low in fat and sugar but high in healthy carbs and protein.
Food is also important for muscle repair after a workout, which will help to build those muscles even bigger, helping your future workout to be even more effective!
When to eat
The general rule is that you want to eat an hour to two hours before you workout, but for early morning sweaters or those that run from the office to the gym that can be a challenge. The reason for the time gap isn’t that you’ll get a cramp or that you’ll have most of your energy going to digestion (again, super myths there), but that your body won’t have time to get the energy that you need out of the food when you want to use it. By eating an hour or two before, you’ll get the energy boost when you need it. BUT if you can’t for some reason follow that rule, then you’re still better off eating even in the minutes before you start your run or your Pilates routine than you are fasting. You’ll get the boost later, but that’s better than not at all.
What to eat
Even more important than eating before a workout is drinking before, during and after a workout. Oh, and every other time in your life. Most of us walk around chronically dehydrated, and while this point might seem off topic a bit, it’s just that important. Drink more than you think is normal or necessary. Take hydration seriously, because while when you eat or how much you eat can have some effect on how much you get out of your workouts, drinking too little or not often enough can cause serious harm to your body. When in doubt, down a bottle of water. Chug, chug, chug!
Now that we’ve done the whole hydration PSA thing, how about what to eat? Here are 8 foods that fit all of the parameters that we’ve talked about, and that will fit any one’s taste buds.
Oats (in all their forms)
There are lots of ways to get your oats on before a workout. A cup of cooked oatmeal actually has six grams of protein in it already, but add a scoop of protein powder or a tablespoon of peanut butter for an extra boost. You can also eat oats in the form of energy balls or bars, or even low sugar granola. Heck, oatmeal is actually really great in smoothies. The high fiber count will keep releasing energy for you for a long, long time!
Banana and nut butter
Literally grab a jar of natural (no sugar or added oils) nut butter and a banana, then smear the nut butter onto the banana. You don’t even need a plate.
Whatever exotic combination you’re into works here! Stay away from dairy smoothies as they tend to have more fat. Also, keep all of the extra sugar and junk out of them. Drop in some nut butter or protein powder for a boost of protein and drink up! What could be easier?
Whole grain toast with something on it
The something on it is a key here. Hummus, Greek yogurt, nut butters or even a cooked egg white are all great options. If you’re more in the mood for a meal, then this is a great way to go.
If you haven’t started a love affair with beans yet, now is a great time. The high fiber content combined with protein and carbs are literally almost perfect! Drizzle a half cup to a cup with some fat-free dressing and nosh on. Literally any kind of bean will do!
Chicken and brown rice
Another more meal kind of option is chicken and brown rice. Keep it simple and low in fat, but other than that you’re great!
There’s a reason that everyone seems to have fallen in love with Greek yogurt, and that’s because it’s low in fat and high in protein. Add in a bit of your favorite fruit for a perfect protein/carb combination.
Nuts and dried fruit
For the best on the go snack before a workout, munch on a handful of nuts and dried fruit. Watch out for added sugar, salt or oils when you make your pick. The great thing about this snack is that you can eat it anywhere. Keep a baggie of it in your purse, briefcase or gym bag so that you always have a perfect snack to before your workout.
Working out is hard work. Make it easier on you and your body by eating the right foods at the right time.
Bio: Lauren McClerkin is a PMA® Certified Pilates instructor and proud mom of five beautiful children. She created the 100’s to Happiness® Challenge with the goal of bringing the healing practice of Pilates to everyone. The app is available for download on all iOS and Android devices.
Follow Lauren on Twitter!