About two weeks ago, my friend Christine texted me a question that arose from my blog. Due to unfortunate circumstances, it took me this long to answer (though I did answer her in person right away, for the record). She was curious as to what I do with eating before a workout. It all depends on the time of my workout and if I’m in a crunch or can take my time.
If I’m heading to a class in the morning or otherwise occupied in the afternoon and need to fit it in, I am no stranger to eating something on the way to the gym. It sounds like a crime, which is why I said it with italics. I give myself every second of sleep that I can afford, so yes, there are often times that I am in a rush, chugging gallons of water, sips of coffee, and snarfing down a quick peanut butter wrap to rev up my metabolism and fuel my workout. I’m only mildly ashamed.
Strange thing though, it works for me.
I keep my meals quick and easy in these circumstances, sticking to carbs and protein. My favorite is the aforementioned peanut butter wrap, which includes a whole wheat tortilla and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Boom. Perfection in an oddly wrapped cylinder. Another excellent combination is a hard-boiled egg with a cheesestick or a handful of trail mix- Trader Joes’ peanut butter cup mix is a personal favorite. A banana and peanut butter will never steer you wrong, but I tend to avoid lots of fruits and veggies right before working out because they fill you with fiber and don’t leave you feeling light and airy.
Before heading out to a Zumba class my friend Shonna teaches, I had a little bit of extra time, so I found a recipe online to try for something a little different.
I know you’re confused because I would be too if I hadn’t made it. Looks a little eggy, but doughy as well, yeah? Well, it’s a protein pancake made mostly of egg whites with some oats, vanilla, cinnamon, and mashed banana. It was also huge without being too filling. I topped it with some butter and syrup to sweeten it up. Though the texture was strange, it wasn’t altogether terrible and I did enjoy it. It also didn’t sit in my stomach like a rock while I was hopping around in Zumba, so yay!
My post-workout snack included this big bowl of kefir filled to the brim with strawberries, blueberries, and a couple of almonds thrown on top for a hit of fat and crunch. Between yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese, I like kefir the most because it’s tangy like frozen yogurt and smooth. Note, don’t love chunks!
I kept my workout to Zumba today because I’m nursing a sore calf. Not sure what happened, but it started hurting yesterday while I was training, so I’ve been stretching and rolling it out every few hours. Yesterday, I did fit in a quality run. My calf wasn’t aching or sore during it, so I think the movement actually helped stretch it out. Since it’s so nice out again today, I’ll try to stretch it out with a walk in a little while.
Back to today’s main topic, eating before a workout, if I have a few hours, I stick with my normal eating routine, typically enjoying a good sized breakfast (favorite meal of the day!), drinking tons of water, coffee and tea, and then about an hour and a half to two hours of digesting, I’m good to go for a strong workout!
Obviously this would vary depending on the type of workout you are about to do. I find that when I’m running, my body is very fickle and I’m still trying to find balance for it. For instance, there is such a thing as having too much water during a run that it bloats and makes you have to pee- not a fun feeling when you’re trying to keep stride and very distracting- or not enough that you’re dehydrated and not energized. Same goes for food because your stomach can’t be too full, but it also needs something to burn for energy. The only workout I find that I don’t want to eat beforehand is during Yoga, but even then I usually pair it with some form of cardio, so I need something.
Eating in general can be overwhelming. There is so much information out there that tells us “exactly” what we should do and that “exactly” changes about every two-three days depending on all sorts of studies. Stay educated, even while reading through different articles and following advice. Every single thing that works for me, will not work for you and vice versa. Our bodies are machines that operate in similar ways, but even when the mechanics are the same, we’re all so different. Explore a little, see what works and what doesn’t and make note of it. The very best thing you can do to and for your body is to listen to it. It tells us what it needs.
I think I’ll do another post somewhere down the line about what to eat post-workout. When our bodies are hungry and revved up, our brains sometimes confuse signals with what we should be eating versus what we want to be eating. Balance, my friends. Balance is a challenging, but necessary part of life.
With anything, just keep trying, accept failure, measure success, and enjoy the process.