Good afternoon! Today I have a fun guest post to share with you guys from Kathryn, the blogger behind Chicks Dig Running! Kathryn is an avid runner – she competed in the NCAA Division 1 National Championship in cross country for the University of Florida – and has a bachelor’s degree in food science and human nutrition from the University of Florida and a master’ s degree in health science from Nova Southeastern University. Today she’s here to chat about pre- and post-exercise fuel!
I hope you enjoy! Thanks so much for stopping by PBF, Kathryn!
Guest Post: Chicks Dig Running
Hey everyone! My name is Kathryn, and I am an avid eater, exerciser, blogger, and reader of Peanut Butter Fingers. I have really enjoyed reading Julie’s posts since I discovered her site and I was ecstatic when she agreed to let me do a guest post. On my blog, Chicks Dig Running, I write about running, nutrition, health, self confidence, and I throw in a little life here and there. Since Julie writes about all kinds of fitness classes and activities (putting one-trick ponies like me to shame!), I am going to chat a little about how you can tailor your nutrition to your exercise on a daily basis.
Before we get started, I just want to let you know that I am neither a registered dietitian nor a personal trainer. I have a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition and a Master’s Degree in Health Sciences. All of my information here is gathered from textbooks and peer-reviewed journal articles and studies. Meaning, I can’t charge you for this advice but it’s legit!
The basics of sports nutrition are pretty easy to grasp: Carbs before a long run, protein after a hard workout, blah blah blah. But most fit gals these days are exploring all kinds of exercise methods, and that means a whole new set of rules to figure out! We won’t get too technical here, but here are some guidelines for how to fuel and re-fuel for a few of your favorite kinds of workouts.
This centuries-old favorite does wonders for your muscles, ligaments, balance, and stress levels. There are many types, though, and each type will require different considerations.
If you are doing hot yoga, the most important thing to consider is WATER! Start hydrating the day before your practice, and drink plenty of water before the class. It’s also important to have something in your tummy so you don’t get light headed, so snack on something light an hour or so before the class. After the class, be sure to drink water and also take in some electrolytes to prevent dilution of the important minerals in your bloodstream. After heavy sweating, too much water can be just as harmful as not enough water. Coconut water, a low-sugar sports drink (like Nuun), a fruit smoothie, or a glass of milk will do the trick. All of these contain sodium and potassium, the important electrolytes lost with sweat.
When you do more strength-building yoga, like Hatha or Ashtanga, your muscles are working hard. When your muscles are challenged, you need to give them protein afterwards to rebuild. In order to gain strength from all your hard work, grab a snack with lean protein as well as some complex carbs. Some good post-yoga meals would be: an egg on whole grain toast, oatmeal with a scoop of peanut or almond butter, turkey on a whole wheat wrap, or whole grain pasta with grilled chicken.
Barre class is one of those tricky ones: it doesn’t look that hard from the outside, but boy do you feel the burn when you’re the one doing it! Although not highly cardiovascularly challenging, barre classes work select muscles to exhaustion. For these classes, you will definitely want to get some protein in afterwards. You may not be covered in sweat afterwards, but you definitely put some work in! Rebuild muscles into those beautiful new shapes by munching on some lean protein afterwards. Since you’re not getting a ton of cardiovascular work though, you want to keep it light and lean so you don’t undo all the hard work you just put in. Ideas: hummus and carrots, a small serving of grilled fish, or a low fat protein shake.
High Intensity Interval Training is rapidly gaining popularity as a powerful combination of a calorie-torching cardio workout with muscle-sculpting weight training. One lesson I learned the hard way is: Do NOT eat a heavy meal before this class! It’s full of jumping, bouncing, and rapid movements. The first time I went to a HIIT class I scarfed a quesadilla beforehand, not knowing what I was in for. I then spent the majority of the class trying to ignore the sloshing around in my stomach during the jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and wood chops. Go light on your pre-workout meal.
A little pre-workout caffeine could also be helpful by waking you up for this high-energy class.
As long as it’s not too late in the day (to interfere with your sleep pattern later), caffeine can be beneficial to your workout. It aids muscular oxygen uptake and delays fatigue. And, of course, be sure to refuel after with a protein-and-carbohydrate snack. Aim for a ratio of 4:1 of grams of carbohydrates to grams of protein. Fun fact: Chocolate milk fits this ratio almost perfectly and has been proven to be an excellent post-workout snack!
Ah, my personal favorite. Even as I try other classes and workout methods, running will always be my first true love. As I have found with myself and other running friends of mine, what your stomach can tolerate before and after a run is very personal. I can’t eat anything for hours before a hard workout or race without feeling sick. On the other hand, I’ve witnessed girls snacking just before going to the starting line without any issues. Experiment, and stick with what works. I have been eating the same pre-race meal for 8 year, because it works. I like quickly digesting carbohydrates (and some strong coffee!) before a run, and a more substantial protein-packed meal afterwards.
If you’re training for a race, be sure to find what works before the day of the event. Practice at home, and try different varieties of snacks before, during, and after your runs. Some people love energy bars and gels, while other prefer a more natural approach like apples or bananas. And be sure to get that 4:1 carb:protein snack in afterwards! You may not be lifting weights, but your muscles are working hard and breaking down (in a good way!) while you run. They need carbohydrates and protein in order to rebuild, which in turn makes you stronger for your next sweat sesh.
I hope this information was helpful to all of you fitness fanatics out there! Be sure to stop by ChicksDigRunning.com for more nutrition and training information.
Question of the Afternoon
- What are some of your favorite foods to eat before and after a workout?