I've been doing roughly 1 hour of cardio 5x's a week (30 min on Mr. T and 30 on the upright bike) with no problem- truthfully, (to my own surprise) I really enjoy working out and pushing myself to do things that I didn't think I could. However, last night I felt like my legs weighed a bazillion pounds and it literally was all I could do to to keep myself on that treadmill for the full 30 minutes- but I did and I was proud of myself :)
I went home wondering why in the world I just felt so sluggish during my workout- that had never happened to me before and at this point in the game working out should be getting easier, not harder. And then the culprit to my sluggishness was discovered- I hadn't eaten since noon and it was 6pm! No wonder I felt like a dead turd! You would think it would be fairly obvious that not eating for 6 hours would not provide me with enough energy for a great workout but needless to say, I wasn't usin' the old noggin!
And this got me thinking- did I really even know what it was I was suppposed to be eating before and after a workout? The simple answer- No. So I spent the evening doing some research and here's what I found out:
It is helpful to not just eat before or after a workout but both.
Benefits to eating BEFORE a workout: Helps give your body the energy that it needs to work hard so that you can burn calories/fat, helps settle your stomach and avoid hunger, prevents low blood sugar, and fortifies your mental state by knowing that your body is fueld. This might just sound like a bunch of mumbo jumbo but let me tell you what, I know that I would have felt a million times better during my workout and been able to burn WAY more calories had I made sure I had fueled my body properly.
- Protein Bar
- Sports Drink
Avoid: Foods rich in Fiber and Fat.
Benefits to eating AFTER a workout: Studies have shown that 15-60 minutes after a workout is the optimal time to eat carbohydrate and protein rich foods because it is at that time that you have a "metabolic window"- This means that enzymes that replenish muscle carbs are at their highest levels. Plus, insulin, which rebuilds protein stores, is at peak levels. So eating a carb-and-protein mix at this point will maintain muscle, replenish glycogen stores, and reduce the amount of fat your body stores.
- Turkey on a whole wheat bagel
- Orange Juice
- Peanut Butter Sandwhich
- Yogurt w/fruit
- Bagel w/ lite cream cheese
- Handful of nuts
As far as WHAT TIME you should eat- about 1 hour before and within 15-45 minutes after.
Before researching this subject I was really just guessing at what I thought was good to eat, but now I know the right way to fuel my body so that a workout doesn't feel like torture! I'm guessing most of you already knew this stuff but in the rare case that someone was like me and was clueless- there you go! :)
I'm hitting the gym again tonight, but this time I'll be munching on one these little tastes of heaven... Luna Bars! (Peanut Butter Cookie). These babies are packed w/ protein (9gs) and I'll see if these provide me w/the energy I need to give it my all in the gym!
Yesterday's slugfest also reminded me that I need to be more consious of eating my 6 small meals a day- I really shouldn't have gone 6 hours without eating- I'm prepared today!
So let's hear it- do you eat before/after you workout? What are your favorite pre/post workout snacks?