Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fueling For Your Workout

Hello everyone! I hope you all had great long weekends (I'm jealous of those of you who didn't work yesterday, but I guess I'm happy for you!).

Updates since last time
Nick and I began to look at houses this weekend. I am still not full time, therefore it's going to be tough to find a house we both love, within our price range, but so far we're happy with our possibilities!

- I made some fun new foods over the weekend, which I'll be sharing with you in the coming weeks. Get excited :)

Random Nutrition and Health Tidbit

Pre-workout meal/snack

  • Caffeine has a potentially helpful effect, if consumed in moderation (1-2 cups) before a workout. Personally, I consume 2 cups of coffee before my morning workout! This ends up being about 100 mg caffeine (I use half decaf, half regular). Remember, it takes 30 minutes for caffeine to kick in.
  • Do you workout early in the morning? Consume something small to get your blood sugar levels up. Even an apple, a small glass of OJ, an orange, or a pomegranate would be fine. Other options include a small yogurt, half a banana, or half of a snack bar (Ex: Soyjoy, Mojo, Nature Valley).

  • Do you workout in the afternoon? Eat larger meals when you have at least 4 hours before workout. Use this time to incorporate some fat and fiber into your diet. Fat and fiber are both necessary in the diet, but are meal components that you don't want to eat right before a workout. So when you have plenty of time before your workout, focus on whole grains and healthy fats (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds)
The meal below has whole grain rice, and about 3 ounces of high fiber/protein tofu! Tofu is also rich in healthy fats.

  • Eat smaller, but substantial meals/snacks when you have 2-3 hours before a workout. During this meal, or large snack, you can incorporate fiber and fat, but some people may be able to handle more than others. For example; I can easily consume a spoon full of peanut butter with some oats an hour or so before a workout, but that's because I know my body metabolizes food very fast, and it won't be sitting in my stomach still when I work out. Sometimes you just need to practice some eating strategies in order to fully understand what you can and cannot handle before a workout.
  • Your pre-workout meal also depends on the type of workout. For example; on days that I work my arms, I can eat just about anything before I workout, as I am not doing much bouncing up and down. On days that I do the elliptical, I can still handle a good amount of food prior to my workout, but on days that I am running on the treadmill (bouncing up and down) I can't eat much before I workout.
  • Be sure to remain hydrated throughout the day. The basic recommendation is to consume the amount of ounces as your body weight (in pounds) divided by two.
  • Electrolytes from sports drinks may be necessary if a) you workout longer than 90 minutes b) you are a heavy sweater, or c) you are working out in hot and humid conditions.
  • Running a marathon? Some of the rules above can apply, but the general recommendation is to practice your diet regimen several times before you race. Get to know which foods are likely to cause trouble, and which foods are likely to help you. In general I've found that you should consume about 8-9 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight (there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate) during the 24-48 hours before the race.
Question: If I were to do another post on workout meals, what else would you like to know? What are some of your favorite pre-workout meals/snacks?

New Eats
What should you do when you don't like a product that you purchased? Throw it away? Nope! Make something with it, that does taste good! I really didn't like this multi grain hot cereal from Hodgson Mill, but there was a recipe on the back of the box for "Fiber Muffins", which I thought sounded pretty gross, but worth a try. Couldn't they have come up with a better name??

The recipe is here. I modified it in many ways, since I didn't have some of the ingredients it called for, and because I'm obsessed with modifying recipes.

Whole wheat flour instead of white flour

2 T almond butter instead of 1 cup shredded carrots and 1 cup apples
(I didn't have carrots, and I didn't want to waste any apples!)

1/2 cup soy milk instead of 2% milk/skim

1/4 cup Smart Balance oil instead of regular vegetable oil (more ALA fats!)

They were so good, I had to have a bite right away.....

This gives you an idea of how big the muffins were (not very).

The original yield on the recipe was 12 muffins, which would have been 275 calories each. I decided to double my yield, and divide those calories in half. I made 23 muffins.

275 calories vs. 145 calories
See the difference in size? I'm much more likely to eat the smaller muffin as a snack, heated up with some butter on top.

2 grams fiber
7 grams fat
~217 mg Omega-3 (Essential Omega-3, ALA)

Coming Up

Stay tuned for my next post, which will include a new dinner for my 2010 cookbook, and of course my Biggest Loser Review! I have also received some specific requests for different topics, including my thoughts on the Raw Food Diet. Any requests I receive I will eventually get to, but maybe not right away. It's all coming!
Thanks for reading, and have a great day.


  1. I'm happy to hear another positive review about caffeine! I don't overdose on caffeine but it's good to know the cup or two I drink a day isn't a no-no!

  2. House hunting! It was so fun but stressful. We looked at 57 before finding ours! As for pre-workout snacks, I really eat whatever I am feeling. I make sure it isn't heavy and won't make me feel sick, but is enough to energize me.

  3. I'm looking forward to reading the article you posted later today. Thank you for the link. I too generally have caffeine before a morning workout unless I workout prior to 6am.

  4. oh wow great post! i think you should totally do another one :) i'd love to hear the negative effects of not properly fueling before and after your workout. even though i think you may have already done something similar to this? if you did you can hate me as a friend.

    but i still love those muffins

  5. I don't like using stuff I don't like to make other things. I know that if I don't like it, I don't like it and that's that. I usually give stuff to my coworkers or a friend.

    Good luck with the househunting!

  6. I love exercising in the morning because it starts my day out in a pleasant, energizing way...but this doesn't always happen, so sometimes I'm stuck exercising in the evening. In the morning, I always debate over whether to eat breakfast and wait an hour, or do light exercise like yoga and have a late lunch/breakfast...I should try the light snack idea.

    Those muffins sound great!

  7. Great workout fueling tips!

    House hunting is so much fun!!! I hope you find something you love :)

    Have a great day Gina!

  8. Great tips! lol-- love the bite out of that muffin :-)

    Good luck househunting! Hope you find something great!

  9. Thanks for the tips! I had no idea drinking coffee before a work out would help! I will definitely be using these tips today!

  10. I do notice a kicking effect of caffeine before workout, it makes me have more power for the moment! :D
    I don't workout everyday anymore so whenever I do, I like to have a bigger lunch and wait 4 hours to digest well and just before getting hungry to workout. ;)
    I hate throwing away food that I buy even if I don't like it. I do exactly what you did... use it to create something else! :D those muffins look great and sounds a perfect pre/post workout snack!

  11. Hey I had to work yesterday...my students didn't have class but I still had to come in. I don't mind though cause it was a fairly quiet day.

    Anyway here is my pre-workout eating patterns.

    I workout 6 days a week in the morning with cardio for 45 mins about 2 hours after I get up. I eat breakfast about an hour and a half before I workout and it is a pretty substantial because breakfast is my largest meal of the day. Normally includes 2 eggs, 1 piece of WW toast with smart balance, 2 slices of low sodium bacon, 1 cup of skim milk, 1 cup low sodium V8, some water, & 1 cup of coffee with a little cream. Totally lets me workout at a pretty high intensity level without any problems.

    In the afternoons 5 days a week I normally do either weight lifting or yoga. I have my snack about 2 hours prior and lately it has been 1 clementine and 1/4 cup of some type of nuts.

  12. Congrats on the house hunting. I hope you get the kitchen space you dream of. Thanks for the great nutrition tidbits. I love this section. Little "sound" bytes. Nice work on the muffins. I had the Hogdson Mill oat bran that I used for the muffin recipe on the back and they were really good.

  13. Thanks for the pre-workout fueling info! Very informative! I do like to drink a bit of coffee before a workout, and I do feel it gives me an extra kick. :)

    The muffins sound great, and I like the smaller size!

    Have a great day!

  14. Thanks for the great information. My favorite, early morning pre-workout snack is a Fig Newton.

    I never drink caffeine before a workout - only water. I very rarely drink gatorade - only if I have been on a long run and I dilute it with water.

  15. i love all your workout tips- i didn't even realize i was doin the right thing :) whenever i would workout in the morning, i would have some kind of small bar or a piece of fruit and then refuel after. when i worked out in the afternoon i liked to have ahd a meal 2-3 hours prior! & good luck w/ the house hunting!!!


  16. I always love hearing that about caffeine (as I am drinking a cup!) It definitely helps my morning workouts when I drink some! Your muffins look great. I think I need to make them!

  17. Great tidbits about working out and eating. If you do these sort of suggestions again, I would like to about what kinds of food (protein, carbs, fats) to eat before/after exercising.

  18. In regards to your question about what we'd like to see-I would love to hear your thoughts on post-workout meals as well. I've heard that you should consume protein within an hour of a strength training workout. What about cardio, yoga or pilates?

  19. This is such a fabulous post! I need to start getting back in the habit of having a snack before my morning workouts. I used to have half a banana but when I started to cut calories, I stopped. Do you think a small box of raisins is okay? 45 Calories

  20. Yum! I love muffins! I love the food ideas before a workout. Really helpful!

  21. I work out in the mornings and usually have a little caffeine before I go - it really does help with performance! I like FRS energy drink too!

  22. Good luck house hunting! That's so exciting!

    Thanks for the tips on pre-workout meals and snacks!

    Haha, awesome job with the recipe modifications! I used to always follow recipes to a T! But then as I started trying out more recipes, I became more comfortable with substituting different ingredients or modifying the recipe in some way, like reducing the amount of sugar. Also, reading food blogs helps because it gives you ideas on recipe modifications you can make and how they turned out and why! I like that you used almond butter instead of shredded carrots and apples! Very creative!

  23. caffeine does get such a bad rep but I know that it can be beneficial prior a workout, not too close though for me or my HR gets crazy, but about an hour before I do enjoy some caffeine before hand! it makes fro a great workout, I just make sure to supplement with plenty of h20!

    great tips on pre workout meals, I always try to have a substantial lunch then wait about 2 hours after to workout! it holds me over quite well. the worst feeling is going in for a workout HUNGRY! ahh i try to avoid that at all costs!

  24. Thanks for the article.

    Have fun house hunting.

  25. Thanks for the tips. I must admit, when I go to this 5am spin, I am barely awake yet and don't eat anything before I go. Like you said, even something small would be good.

  26. Great post! Especially because it proves I'm doing it right. I work out first thing in the morning and drink a fresh green juice beforehand. Gives me just enough of a lift to make it through as much as an hour's workout! The post workout nutrition could probably use some work, though, since in the mad dash to get ready for work I pretty much just have water after the workout until my coffee at 9am, which suppresses my hunger yet again til like 10:30. Wondering if I should be squeezing in a little protein within an hour of working out, though I'm no athlete or anything.

  27. This is great to know! I tend to do my workouts in the morning. So are you saying to eat those foods before or after the workout? I usually just wake up and go right to the gym before thinking about food, but like to plan out my meal while working out :)

  28. great post! so much great info - thanks for sharing ;)

  29. Your modified muffins sound and look great. And now I'm craving a muffin in a major way :)

    Good luck with the house hunting!

  30. I promise I'm not stalking you, but realized that I didn't comment on your house hunting!!!! Good luck! That is super exciting.

  31. Hey Gina,

    I saw your comment on Simply Life's blog and wanted to tell you that Hemp Milk has 40% calcium, 6% iron, 10% Vit A, 20% Vit D, 2% Folic acid, 20% B12... I personally prefer it over Almond milk.. since Almond Milk doesn't have any calcium.

  32. Gina, that is a great recipe. Interesting idea!

    great to hear about caffiene.. not like i would have EVER stopped drinking coffee anyway! what do you usually eat before a run? im curious! and how much protein do you consume in one day?
    have a fab night lova!

  34. When something tastes gross, just put it in a muffin! I bought some maca powder...and whoa is it nasty...so I put small sprinklings of it in my baked goods. Everything tastes better when it's in a muffin.

  35. I follow those workout fueling rec's to a tee. I NEED something before an early AM workouts and I always eat a larger meal with an early evening/late afternoon workout. Great tips! Excited for your BL review! AND CONGRATS on the house hunt! Such an exciting time! VERY exciting! : )

  36. I too love a cup of java before an AM sweat session! I feel it keeps me goin!

  37. Yay Gina- so exciting about house-hunting!! Just remember to breathe. I bought a house (condo) on my own several years ago and it was the most fun experience, but at times, very stressful- so just breathe and enjoy it. What an exciting time!

    I love your pre-workout tips. I am amazed how sometimes people will come to our two and a half hour weekend warriors class without eating anything!They are wiped out after the first hour. Great tips!

    Have a great rest of your week!

  38. Dave and I are starting to look at houses too. It's so exciting! Unfortunately, in the Boston area, everything is super ove- priced!

  39. Great Post! I always struggle with what to eat pre-workout. Good to know of these options.

    Best of luck house hunting. It can be the most exciting but daunting task.

  40. Congratulations on the house search! SO exciting!!!

    Thank you for the great tips about pre-workout meals! I usually have a small mug of OJ before working out in the morning, so I was excited to see that as one of your recommended options! :-)

    Your muffins sound SO yummy! I love your idea of adding almond butter!

  41. Hi Gina! I have a slightly related question for you regarding my workouts. Anytime that I go for a run or have an intense spin class, I find that if I do NOT have gatorade after my workout I will get insanely nauseous and the feeling won't go away. I have tried all the tips you mention above for fueling your workout, but nothing has cured this problem other than gatorade. Do you have any insight on why this happens to me?

    I also HAVE to eat before and directly after my workouts or I will start to feel sick no matter what. I know some people can wake up and have a glass of juice or a piece of fruit before a workout and be fine - but I cannot. I get very sick unless I have something substantial before and after my workout! Again, it doesn't matter what I am eating.. I've tried all of your tips and more.

    Any help you could give me would be fantastic! Thanks!

  42. I should mention my workouts are generally 45-60 minutes! Sorry I forgot to add that in.

  43. What a great resource!