Pre-workout Meals

Pre-workout Meals

 

There are a few important things to consider in the pre-workout meal discussion. Timing, size, and content are the three key factors in choosing a great meal that will give you optimal performance levels.
Timing– Ideally, a meal should be eaten between 2 and 3 hours before a workout in order to give your body time to fully digest the protein, carbohydrates, and sugar that will be converted to fuel to power you through those grueling last few reps. For all you earlier birds, I don’t expect you to wake up at 3 Am to make an omelette. So your meal and portion size will be much different.
Size– Portion size is extremely important because you don’t want to feel bogged down or bloated during a workout. On that same token ensuring your muscles are properly fueled is vital to prevent muscle degredation. The preworkout meal and time before workout are directley correlated. The farther away you are from a workout (say 3 hours) the bigger your meal (probably full size). If you are grabbing something 15-20 minutes before it should be much smaller and generally in liquid form so it is easily digestable.
Content-An ideal pre-workout meal should consist of 20-30 grams of protein to keep your body in an anabolic state to prevent muscle breakdown during your workout. Along with the protein, 20-30 grams of low glycemic carbohydrates is also advisable.

A 2-3 hour prior example 

A turkey/chicken breast, spinach & tomato omelette with a small serving of steel cut oats. Low glycemic carbohydrates such as spinach and steel cut oats will be converted to energy and used as fuel during your workout. Low glycemic carbohydrates will keep your insulin from spiking which can lead an energy crash mid-workout. This meal is also low in fat and fiber which will make it easy to digest.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole cage free eggs
  • ½ cup spinach
  • ½ turkey/chicken breast
  •  ¼ cup dice tomatoes
  •  ½ cup cooked steel cut oats with cinnamon and blueberries

Nutritional Facts

  • Calories-400
  • Protein-30 grams
  • Carbohydrates-30 grams
  • Fat-6 grams
  • Fiber-8 grams

I like to workout in the late mornings so the first thing I do when I wake up is start off with a great breakfast that has an adequate source of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat. The protein will ensure there is no muscle breakdown and give your body a steady stream of fuel and amino acids through your workout. The carbs will be converted to energy while the fiber and fat will keep you feeling full throughout the pre-workout/workout period. Adequate hydration is also vital to prepare you body for a successful workout. Ensuring your muscles are hydrated will prevent cramping and optimize performance.

Now, for the early birds. (15-45 minutes before workout)

 

Home made protein shake

My protein shake is very generic but an effective, homemade recipe. I shoot for a 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio made with the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  •  1/2 serving plain unflavored greek yogurt
  •  1 tbsp chia seeds
  •  ¼ cup of blueberries
  •  ½ banana
  •   1 scoop of unflavored 100% whey isolate protein powder (20-30 grams)
  •  3 grams of glutamine
  •   Ice cubes

Nutritional facts

  • Calories-300
  • Protein-25 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 30 grams
  • Fiber- 12 grams

A 2:1 or 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal for refueling your muscles and replacing glycogen levels. Drink this shake within 30 minutes of your workout, or 30 minutes prior, to ensure your muscles receive healthy carbohydrates and protein from natural sources to rebuild muscle tissue that has been broken down during a workout. A liquid meal, such as a protein shake, is absorbed more quickly than solid food. The addition of fruit will help you restore your glycogen levels and transport protein to your muscles. Using natural foods such as fruit and unflavored yogurt will stabilize blood sugar levels and not cause a severe insulin spike that you get with most “store-bought” shakes due to the large amount of processed sugars and additives that are present.  The combination of chia seeds, fruit, yogurt, and almond milk provides an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. With such a wide array of products and additives that are present in many supplements and shakes, I always recommend people make their own, using unprocessed ingredients, to ensure your muscles receive the most bang for your buck. Here is a tip: Make your shake the night before and store it in the fridge to save yourself the hassle and cleanup in the morning.

Generally a medium-sized meal is recommended 2 hours before your workout to give your body a chance to digest and convert the food before you lift. With that being said, every person is different. Finding out what works best for you in terms of energy levels, muscle growth, and recovery is the most important thing. Whatever you do make sure you have a steady stream of energy to you can power through a tough workout.

Sorry about the recent hiatus and thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin
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The Best Additions For A Healthy Salad

The Best Additions For A Healthy Salad

The term “FAT FREE” is misleading because excess carbohydrates in your diet end up as excess body fat.

Dressings

This is the BIGGEST mistake people make when eating a salad. Picking the wrong dressing can transform a typical healthy dish into a saturated fat/sugar-loaded nightmare. Here are 2 things to be aware of when picking a dressing:

  • Serving Size– Don’t load up dressing on your salad. Measure out a serving size with a tablespoon to know exactly how many calories you are taking in.  Most people are shocked when they realize how small”1 serving size” is.
  • Ingredients– Dont be mislead by labels and disclaimers such as “reduced-fat” when choosing a dressing. These labels are not regulated by the FDA and the marketing gurus will say anything to promote their brands and products. Look for hidden ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, and fructose the are artificial alternatives to sugars.  As a general rule stay away from dressings with a long list of ingredients or additives.

What To Choose:

Balsamic Vinegar– 2 tbsp (which is all you need) of balsamic vinegar has 50 calories. Balsamic vinegar contains polyphenols, antioxidants that can protect the body from heart disease and cancer and has enzymes that break protein down into smaller amino acids that can be more easily absorbed by the body.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil–  A moderate serving of olive oil has the healthy monounsaturated fats that can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and has been proven to help promote healthy skin and hair.

Alternative Oils- Alternative oils such as coconut,  macadamia, or walnut oil will provide a healthy source of Omega 3’s and give you a variety from traditional olive oil.

Make your own– If you get tired of the balsamic vinegar and oil combo try this.

½ cup Greek yogurt
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp red onion, finely diced
Juice from 1 lime
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp cumin

What to Stay Away From

Any pre-made salad dressings from the store like:

Ranch- One serving of ranch dressing contains approximately 140 calories and 14 grams (mostly saturated) of fat. Of the 140 calories, 130 are from fat. Don’t be deceived by the “low-fat” or “light” alternatives as they boast more unhealthy additives and sugars that are equally as bad.

Blue Cheese-Blue cheese dressing is a quick way to ruin a healthy salad. The average brand contains 152 calories and 15.6 grams of fat making blue cheese a diet blunder.

Italian-  With more than 14 grams of fat per serving and a hefty load of processed ingredients, Italian can be a real detriment to your diet.

Thousand Island– Another cream-based, fat-laden topping, Thousand Island dressing will cost you 140 calories and 14 grams of fat and  a long list of unknown ingredients.

French-French dressing is one of the worst salad additives around. Though it is technically a “vinaigrette”, French dressing still has an overwhelming 14.2 grams of fat and unnecessary sugars.

Caeser- The average brand contains more than 165 calories and 18 grams of fat. Even some of the “light” brands still pack more than 12 grams of fat per two tablespoons.

Great Additives 

Avacado- Many people dismiss the health benefits of avocado simply due to its high calorie count. However, avocados have 54% of your recommended daily value of fiber which gives this fruit much of its fat burning abilities. Just one avocado provides your body with vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, along with  1000 mg of potassium. (About twice as many as a banana)

Flaxseed- 1/2 tbsp of flaxseed gives you your complete recommended daily amount of omega 3’s and can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Flaxseed will help regulate digestion and contains 3 grams of fiber/serving. 

Eggs- Eggs are a great source of protein that are loaded with vitamins, including vitamin A, potassium, and many B vitamins like folic acid, choline and biotin. Very few foods share the same diverse nutrient makeup available in a single egg.

Walnuts- A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. Walnuts are a great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. 

Black Beans- Black beans are very high in fiber, folate, protein, and antioxidants, along with numerous other vitamins and minerals.

Edamame-These legumes pack as much protein as most animal products, without the unwanted saturated fat. Being loaded with fiber makes them filling, refreshing, and great a alternative source of protein too add in your diet.

Artichokes- The artichoke is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetable that is a great natural source of antioxidants. According to the USDA, one medium artichoke is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, and a good source of folate and magnesium.

 Conclusion

Create your salad base with some sort of healthy/dark green leaf such as spinach, kale, arugula, or mixed greens. Add some of the ingredients listed above with some lean protein and top it off with a healthy dressing to create a great meal that will provide essential vitamins and minerals. Incorporating meals like these are crucial to a well balanced diet and will help contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From South Bend,

Kevin