Let's talk nutrition guys! Are you wondering whether you should fuel up before a workout and which kinds of foods will give you the biggest bang for your buck? Then read on for some helpful tips on foods to avoid and which to grab for as you head into the gym!
There is no hard and fast rule to eating prior to a workout. It really comes down to two factors: 1) personal preference and 2) how your body is feeling. If I'm working out in the morning I typically prefer to do it on an empty stomach but as the day moves along I know that giving my body something to work off of is crucial for maintaining solid energy. My first recommendation would be to start taking note of how you feel both before and during a workout to get some guidance on whether having a small meal or snack would be beneficial. If you get to the middle of a workout and feel, "washed out," that is usually an indicator that your body is in need of fuel to keep you movin' and groovin'.
So which foods are ideal? THINK: complex carbs with a dash of protein and fat. Healthy carbohydrates include whole grains and fiber to help get your engine going and provide sustained energy. When strength is included in a workout (i.e. lifting heavy weights, incorporating weighted movements) you may to add protein into the mix to give your body an added dose of amino acids which are valuable in the body's recovery process and the building of new muscle tissues.
Here are some simple snack ideas to get you started:
Whole-grain rice cakes with a small serving of almond butter
Whole-grain toast with a small serving of Kerrygold butter
Apples, berries or bananas
1/2 cup of old-fashion rolled oats (add a small serving of nuts or nut butter for savory flavors and small serving of fat)
Homemade granola bars (granola can become high-cal and high-fat very easily so look for recipes that include whole ingredients without added sugars)
1/2 Sweet potato
On the flipside, there are some foods you may want to avoid such as legumes / beans which are higher in fiber and can leave some people feeling boated and well, gassy during a workout which isn't good for anyone. The same goes for:
Cruciferous vegetables (also high in fiber which can cause tummy issues)
Fried / fatty foods (these will leave you feeling weighted down and sluggish)
100% Fruit Juice (high in fructose and can be difficult to digest prior to a workout)
Approach your pre-workout snack like an experiment. Be willing to try different things and be aware of how you felt heading into the workout and again, what your energy levels felt like intra-workout to uncover which foods leave you feeling fueled and fiesty. If something doesn't jive well, don't beat yourself up! Simply cross it off the list and incorporate something different the next day. This is an opportunity to learn more about your body and how you can help it run most efficiently throughout your day and in preparation for a kick-ass sweat session. Let's get to it!
Mindset v. Mindfulness?
This week I want to talk about the difference between mindset and mindfulness. We will then do a deeper dive this weekend when we have our Mindset seminar. For now, I want to keep it simple:
-Mindset = your set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. Your mindset influences how you think, feel and behave in relation to the world around you. Our mindset plays a critical role in how we traverse the landscape of life, especially when it comes to things like adversity, stress, etc.
-Mindfulness = is our capacity to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing in any given moment with the ability to actively choose how we conduct ourselves rather than acting out of conditioned behavior patterns. Every human being already possesses mindfulness (yay!). Our task is simply learning how to access it....
Why does this matter when it comes to fitness? Fitness extends beyond the gym...beyond a workout and far beyond a sculpted body. Fitness is an ingredient within the larger context of our health and wellness. We can safely assume that the vast majority of people want to look and feel great physically, mentally and emotionally. With that in mind, our workout routine becomes part of a larger eco-system that creates our total health. If you walk out of the gym after having an amazing workout and instantly get overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, worry and the practicalities of life it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve the physical, mental and emotional balance that leaves us feeling our best. Our task then is to leverage mindset and motivation so that we can build off of our fitness routine and cultivate strength across all facets of our daily life. Can that be challenging? Yup! But it can also be extremely rewarding, FUN and once you get the basics down you'll never want to look back.
Caffeine: Take it sip by sip
The morning ritual of coffee is engrained in many of us. You get up in the morning and right away make that cup of joe to get your morning fix of energy before tackling the day's craziness. Although it might be the ritual we love, it’s the caffeine that gives us that zingy, tingly feeling we get when we are finished with our cup. Let’s take a look at caffeine and how it works.
Caffeine is a supplement that is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and various other foods. It’s a central nervous system stimulant, comparable to amphetamines (yet weaker). It has been around for almost 1,000 years and has been used for over 40 years to help performance in all types of sports. Whether you need an early morning jolt, are running a marathon or trying to deadlift 600lbs, caffeine may have benefits for you.
Caffeine can decrease the feelings of perceived exertion, improve work capacity, and increase mental alertness. It is rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream, and blood levels peak after 30–120 minutes. The levels remain high for 3–4 hours and then start to drop. Although there has been a lot of research on the subject of caffeine, there is not enough evidence to support the supposed benefits of caffeine so pay attention to the word MAY in the statements below.
- The nervous system. Caffeine activates areas of your brain and nervous system to improve focus and energy while reducing tiredness
- Hormones. Caffeine increases circulating epinephrine (adrenaline), the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight” response, which can increase performance.
- Fat burning. Caffeine MAY increase your body’s ability to burn fat via lipolysis, or the breakdown of fat in fat cells .
- Endorphins. Beta-endorphins can increase feelings of wellness and give you the exercise “high” that people often experience after working out
- Muscles. Caffeine may improve muscle performance through activation of the central nervous system; however, the exact mechanisms are unclear (11Trusted Source).
- Body temperature. Caffeine has been shown to increase thermogenesis, or heat production, which raises your body temperature and MAY help you burn more calories.
- Glycogen. Caffeine MAY also spare muscle carb stores, primarily due to increased fat burning. This can enhance endurance performance.
The Down Effects
Caffeine can cause anxiety, gastrointestinal disturbances, restlessness, insomnia, tremors and heart arrhythmias. Just like other drugs, it can be physically addicting and stopping caffeine can even cause withdrawal symptoms. Caffeine is also a natural diuretic so plan on making additional trips to the bathroom throughout your day. This means paying extra attention to your water in-take to avoid dehydration.
Caffeine can also have a significant impact on your adrenal glands. Adrenal fatigue describes a condition in which adrenal glands are exhausted and unable to produce adequate quantities of hormones, such as glucocorticoid cortisol, often due to chronic stress. Caffeine stimulates neuron activity in the brain in which neurons send messages to the pituitary gland to stimulate the adrenal glands, which then produces adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline and cortisol are those famous hormones involved in “fight or flight” mode, which happens when you are faced with danger. But these “stress,” hormones are meant to aid us in true emergencies versus meeting a tight deadline to submit a business plan or quarterly report.
If your adrenal glands are fatigued, then caffeine can cause your adrenals to overwork to make more cortisol and burn out your glands. This leads to your adrenals being weakened and less able to respond adequately. This is why coffee has less and less effect over time on people with adrenal fatigue.
Is coffee/caffeine right for you?
Well, it depends. In the right amounts it can be an amazing tool to help you hit your goals and enjoy it as a morning ritual. It’s important to be aware of the effect it is having on your body and adjust your in-take accordingly. Recently, I was experiencing fatigue, anxiety, and heart palpitations on a routine basis. As a first step, I decided to remove coffee and caffeine from my diet. To be honest, the first two weeks were BAD. I felt horrible the first night with painful headaches and persistent nausea. I was in bed by 7pm. After that I slowly began to feel like myself again. My anxiety calmed down, my energy went up and I didn’t crash during the day. It was clear that I was WAY too reliant on caffeine. Moving forward, I’m still going to enjoy coffee as part of my overall lifestyle but now know how to maintain a balanced amount while staying in-tune with how my body is feeling on a daily basis.