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What should I Eat Before and After Working Out?

What-to-Eat-Before-and-After-resized
In my post Exercise to See Change, I introduced the idea of strategy when it comes to exercise. If you want to see results, this post will help you understand how to get them. In addition to exercise, it’s important to understand the role that nutrition plays (my post The Skinny on Carbs will give you a great start.) Learning how to be consistent with nutrition is easy with these tips and menu plans.

That said, there is one more little thing you can do to help you get BIG results: eating the right thing before and after you workout.

So I have to confess, I used to get annoyed with people at the gym who drank those little after workout drinks.  Part of it was ignorance: I thought you only did that if you were a body builder.  Part of it was definitely bewilderment:  why would you pour calories back into your body when you had just spend all of that time burning them?  And a good share of it was pure inconvenience:  I never wanted to take the time to hassle with anything extra.  I was busy.  I had five kids.  I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) justify taking any more time for myself in the exercise department.

Luckily, that was then.  I have since been enlightened, and it is my pleasure to share this important information with you.  Here is the bottom line:  If you are exercising with the hope of losing weight or creating muscle tone or definiton, you need to know what I’m about to tell you.

Remember that our whole objective is to build muscle.  Our muscle is the only thing that can burn fat for us (see my post Food is Your Friend.)  So it’s probably a good thing to know that when you begin exercising on an empty stomach (as in the early morning), guess what your body starts burning?  Muscle.  Yikes!

Pre-workout

This little piece of information was enough to sell me on pre-workout nutrition.  If you have the time before you go, you can have something like half a banana or apple.  Just be aware that food takes 30 minutes to digest, and you’ll want it to be digested so your body can use that food as an energy source instead of using your muscles.  If you like to exercise first thing in the morning, like me, then you’re going to need another plan.  I’m sorry, but I’m just not willing to get up 30 minutes earlier so I can eat half an apple and then wait around to go to the gym.

The solution for me was to find a pre-metabolized protein powder.  I use Isagenix’s Isa Pro.  Pre-metabolized simply means that your body can instantly convert this into energy, and so it is a ready fuel source for body to burn when I hit the weights or the treadmill at 5:30 in the morning.Each morning I mix a few tablespoons of Isa Pro with 1/2 c. water, and then send it down the hatch just before I walk out the door to the gym.

Remember, we want to build up and preserve muscle in everything we do.  Knowing the facts about what our body burns when we exercise on an empty stomach makes this little tidbit a pretty important part of your workout routine.

Post Workout

This is what always killed me.  As I mentioned before, the last thing I wanted to do after exercising was to replenish calories I had just worked so hard to burn.  One of the best things I’ve learned when it comes to exercise and nutrition is this:  nourishing your muscles after you have just broken them down during exercise is the fastest way to build them back up.  And how do we nourish our muscles?  I talked all about it in the Eat Smarter, Not Harder post?  Protein.  And even better than regular old protein from chicken or eggs is – you guessed it – instantly metabolized protein (a.k.a. protein drinks.)  So it turns out that all of those body builders at the gym aren’t morons after all!  They are simply working with the science of nutrition and exercise.  Immediate nourishment for fatigued muscles not only repairs them more quickly, it enables them to accelerate their calorie-burning potential for up to 38 hours after exercising!  This process is called EPOC   (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) and is available to utilize within 45-60 minutes after exercise.  Simply look for a protein source (protein shakes are ideal) with approximately 15 grams of protein, 20-30 grams of carbs, less than 6 grams of fat, and under 200 calories.

To make a shake after you workout, you’ll want to take a blender bottle and a scoop of protein powder in a little sandwich bag with you to the gym. (I love the chocolate Isagenix mixed with Isa Greens. Click here to go to my Isagenix website. The chocolate shake I use is the first of the recommended products on the page.) Fill your blender bottle with water, and add the powder.  You’ll have to experiment with the ratio of water to protein powder that tastes best to you.  Some have reported that these protein drinks can be an acquired taste.  Be open to trying different brands until you find one that works for you.  (The Berry Smoothie and Mango Smoothie are some great recipes that incorporate protein powder, taste great, and helps you take advantage of EPOC.)

During Your Workout

If you are training for an event or find that you like to do longer workouts, you’ll want to supplement your pre and post workout nutrition with something during exercise.  As I am an advocate for moderate exercise, I can only suggest that you do your own research on the best products to enhance and sustain prolonged exercise.

The good news here is you can get some crazy good results with just a few simple steps. Isa Pro before a workout, and an Isagenix or other protein shake after will make all of the difference. What is so exciting to me is how many great ways there are to exercise, regardless of where you fall on the exercise spectrum.  Maybe it’s time for you to incorporate weight training, perhaps you can be more creative and strategic with your cardio exercise, or it could be time for you to consider pre and post exercise nutrition.  The great news is, whatever step you choose to take, you’ll be on your way to living Your Best Life.

Comments

  1. Marci says

    For the pre work out Shake you only do two tablespoons ? Thank you. Trying to get past this plateau and apparently I’ve been doing it all wrong

    • Jenny Layton says

      Hi Marci. First of all, congrats on reaching a plateau! On one hand, a plateau is really frustrating, but from another perspective, it also means you’ve made a lot of hard-earned progress! So I’m happy for how far you’ve come. Regarding your question – yes, I do only two tablespoons. But my workouts are 45-60 minutes, and I also exercise first thing in the morning. My body doesn’t have time to digest a lot before I start my 5:30 am workout. So if you are exercising later in the day, or if you are working out for longer times, your body might require more. Reach out to me via email at [email protected] if you want to chat about your specific circumstance. Hope that helps! 🙂

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