Monday, March 14, 2011

What SHOULD you eat prior to a workout??

Well we've just started a new Hi-5 FitCamp. To be honest, this morning kicked butt! It was awesome to see everybody pushing hard, including the newbies! 

For people who are just beginning or returning to an exercise program, its very logical to think that restricting calories will lead to a greater loss of fat. And to a certain extent, this is correct. However, there are certain times that you should NOT go without food. 

These two times are
  1. In the morning
  2. Before exercise
Let me explain why going without food in both of these situations is NOT a good idea. 
No breakfast will only make this belly bigger!
Skipping food first thing in the morning is not beneficial because in a nutshell, it causes your body to begin to breakdown muscle for fuel. Muscle has an energy cost at rest. In other words, muscle burns fat at rest, not 100% fat, but close to 70% of energy at rest comes from fat. So the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. But if you wake up and proceed with your day without giving your body energy to fuel its movement, your basically killing your metabolism!

Now if you proceed with exercise without eating prior to it, the above will take place, only in an accelerated fashion. Not only that but hypoglycemia will cause your exercise quality to be poor, your concentration and focus to suffer and there is a good chance you'll begin to feel nauseated and dizzy. Who wants that? 

In addition, you again will put your body into what is known as a catabolic state where higher levels of cortisol are released into your bloodstream. Cortisol basically converts protein to carbohydrate for energy through a process called gluconeogenesis. When this begins to happen, again your metabolism will slow down.

And here's another horrible fact for you: high levels of cortisol are correlated with STORAGE OF FAT in your belly. That's right. Not happy with the size of your belly and want it to get BIGGER? Then by all means, skip breakfast, skip your preworkout meal and then continue to not eat!

So what should you eat for breakfast? And what should you eat for a pre-workout meal? 

Well breakfast should always include a lean protein. So eggs, milk, cottage cheese or yogurt are ALWAYS a good choice. Include a little bit of fat such as flax seed oil or some almonds with your protein and a small piece of fruit or a veggie with your eggs you're set! Quantities will vary depending on your body size and that is something you'll need to see a registered dietitian (RD) for. 

What should you have prior to exercise? Well you don't want something too heavy as then you'll feel like your running with a brick in your belly. But still something to provide energy. Below are the things you should look for as well as some examples:
A small glass is nearly the perfect workout fuel.
  • Carbohydrate based (20-40g)
  • a little protein to help prevent catabolism (8-12g)
  • Try to keep it in liquid form
  • Minimal fat
So what fits these descriptions?
  • A small glass of OJ with a 1/2 serving of Protein Powder
  • A small glass of low fat milk 20-30 minute before workout
  • Apple juice with 1/2 container of yogurt
  • Small low-fat yogurt, + 2 tablespoons of granola
All of these should be eaten about 20-30 minutes before a workout. If you have them too much closer, you make experience some digestion issues.

In summary, you must eat or drink SOMETHING prior to a workout to
  • Build muscle
  • Burn fat
  • Keep effort high
  • Fight fat in your belly!

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