What to eat, when: Part II

Last week we posted Part I of this discussion, featuring the three main types of food and how to think about eating for fitness. See that post here.
If you work out in the mornings, eat a small, carbohydrate-packed breakfast 30 to 40 minutes beforehand. Eating protein in the morning before you work out may not be the best idea because protein takes longer to digest. When you work out, blood flow moves from your digestive system to your external limbs because they need the oxygen. So your digestive process may not function as well, and you could get cramps. Protein takes longer to digest than carbs. Eating carbohydrates for breakfast can give you the added energy from glucose, and they will digest quicker.
Generally, you should never eat a large meal or snack closer than 1 hour before you undertake exercise. It’s also a good idea to think in terms of four to six “mini meals” throughout the day, rather than the typical three big meals. These mini-meals will help regulate your blood sugar, provide enough fuel for your muscles, and prevent over-eating.
Everyone’s body reacts differently to digestion. It is important to remember that this is only a guideline—some people may require an entire hour to digest food before they are able to work out.
Eat within 30 minutes after your workout. When you eat, include both carbohydrate and protein. You’ll need the carbs to help replenish your energy so you don’t have a “crash” after exercise. You need to eat protein to get those amino acids to work restoring your muscles.
Energy bars are a quick and easy way to provide calories while you work out. However, if the energy bar looks and tastes like a candy bar, it probably is providing as much nutrition as a candy bar. If it’s covered in chocolate and other sweets, it is probably higher in fat, and lacking enough carbs to help sustain your energy. Examine the ingredient list and choose bars that provide more carbohydrates than protein or fat. Better yet, make your own so you know what’s in there!
Homemade granola bars
½ c dry roasted peanuts
½ c roasted sunflower seeds or other chopped nuts
2 c raisins or other chopped dried fruit
2 c rolled oats
2 c toasted rice cereal
2 T powdered egg whites (“Just Whites”)
½ c natural peanut butter
½ c brown sugar
½ c honey or maple syrup
1 t vanilla or almond extract
coat 9×13 pan with cooking spray
Combine all ingredients in the list up to the egg whites. Set aside.
Using a microwavable bowl, combine the peanut butter, brown sugar and honey.
Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes until bubbling.
Add vanilla and stir.
Pour the peanut butter mixture over dry ingredients and stir until coated.
Fill prepared pan and press down firmly.
Let stand 1 hour to harden.
Cut into bars.
Yields 27 servings
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