Eat Right to Maximize Your Workout

Have you ever felt really exhausted in the middle of your workout? Maybe even slightly nauseas or lightheaded? If so, chances are it had something to do with what you ate or drank (or didn’t eat or drink) prior to working out. Your nutritional intake prior to exercising has a major impact on your energy levels for your workout.

Some of my clients eat too few calories during the day in attempts of trying to lose weight. This will only backfire as consuming inadequate calories during the day and/or skipping a pre-workout snack will lead to lower energy levels during your workout. Therefore, ultimately you will burn fewer calories in your workout. Other people have crazy schedules and forget to eat or stay hydrated. This will also have a negative impact on their workout.

I had one of these low energy “episodes” at the gym last night and ended having a totally useless workout. I could have been home watching “House” or working in this blog! My low energy levels were due to inadequate fluid and carb intake prior to working out. I have limited time to work out due to my crazy work schedule and therefore like to maximize my workout time when I’m in the gym. I am usually quite good about my sports nutrition … but this “episode” shows I don’t always practice what I preach!

Here was the scenerio:
– I had a crazy day with back to back clients
– Inhaled a small salad with grilled chicken and oil and vinegar for lunch about 1 pm  (problem: no carbs)
– Felt very fatigued all day and drank several cups of coffee to wake myself up (problem: too much coffee)
– Didn’t feel thirsty so drank minimal water all day – only ~ 16 ounces. (problem … inadequate fluid leads to dehydration)
– Headed to the gym without having a pre-workout snack  – again rushed and didn’t feel hungry (problem: low blood sugar levels)

I was attempting to do my favorite 75 minute interval leg workout consisting of jumping rope fast for about 3 -4 minutes in between sets of squats, lunges, deadlifts,  etc.  Studies have shown that interval training is great for conditioning and speeding the metabolism. Unforunately, I didn’t get “conditioned”  very well as about 10 minutes into my routine, I felt extrememly weak and somewhat nauseas. I realized what the problem was and started chugging water and ate 1/2 energy bar. But it was too late at that point. I was barely able to finish 30 minutes of working out. So I ended up having a pretty much useless workout on one of the few nights I have time to go to the gym.

So the point is that most of us are really busy and want to make the most of our workouts. We all have different goals – losing weight, getting toned, building muscle mass, training for a race, stress management, improving health, etc. But whatever your goals are, nutrition will play a major role in helping you to attain them. Don’t do what I did! Focus on eating the right food and fluid prior to working out. In future posts, I’ll talk more about what to eat during and after workouts.

Tips to maximize your workout:
1. Make sure you go into your workout being really hydrated. Chugging a glass of water an hour before your workout isn’t going to hydrate you. You really need to be drinking fluid all throughout the day THEN drink 16 ounces 1-2 hours  prior to working out.

2. In additon, drink fluid while you are working out. Drink approximately 3 – 6 oz every 10 -15 minutes during exercise. So basically a 16 oz bottle for an hour of exercise. This is especially important if you are doing aerobic exercise or interval training.

3. Make sure you have a light snack prior to working out that contains some carbs. The size of the snack really depends upon the type/length of workout you are going to do and your own body size. I might suggest a snack of 150-200 calories. If you are trying to lose weight, have a low body weight or are just going to do a light workout, you could get away with ~ 100 calories or so.

4. Ideally, include a little protein in this snack (~ 10 grams ), especially if you plan on weight training.  However,  the bulk of your snack  should be carbs as carbs provide quick energy. Examples: yogurt, energy bar, string cheese and an apple, whole grain crackers, etc.

5. Nothing wrong with having a cup of coffee prior to working out. It can actually help energize you – but don’t neglect the water like I did!

Check out my previous posts  for more detailed info on sports nutrition:

 

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I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.

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