Workout Nutrition Confuses Me, Anyone Else?

Sometimes nutrition and working out can be confusing. When should I eat before I work out, should I even eat before working out? What should I eat? What about after working out, should I eat? Can I eat anything?

Let’s answer a couple of these questions.

YES, you need to eat before working out! If your blood sugar is to low you will end up dizzy and sick. (trust me I’ve gotten sick before from not eating enough!)

YES, you need to eat after you workout as well! You lose almost 50% of what you just did working out by not eating before 30 minutes after you workout! (You lose this mostly with cardio, strength training you have about a 2 hour window, but it is still best to eat within 30 minutes!)

Now I found this fancy little infographic on nutrition and working out and what to eat before and after your workout! It is a perfect reference so keep it handy!! This info graphic will break it down between strength training (on the left) and cardio (on the right.) So if you day consists on mostly cardio take some ideas from the cardio side and the same if you’re workout consists of strength training!

There you go! Hopefully that will help you understand pre and post workout nutrition a little bit better! Remember time is critical and it is very important to eat before and after! You can work out all you want but if you don’t eat enough you can make yourself sick and will not rebuild the muscles you just worked out!

(Also get ready for some more of these infographics, I’m a tad obsessed with them and they are pretty!)

 

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Top Reasons and Myths About Stretching

Now that you have worked out and ate healthy, it’s time to stretch! Here are the top reasons to stretch and myths about stretching!

Top Reasons to Stretch

1. Increases flexibility, creating more energy-efficient movements.

2. Improves range of motion, slowing the breakdown of joints.

3. Reduces the risk of injury.

4. Reduces tension to promote relaxation.

5. Decreases post-workout muscle soreness.

6. Improves posture by keeping you in better alignment.

7. Promotes circulation.

8. Lowers the risk of back pain by keeping the hamstring muscles loose.

Myths About Stretching

Myth

“Stretching counts as a warm-up.”

Reality

Stretching a cold muscle can result in a pull or tear. You should always engage in a quick 5-10 minute warm-up lke walking or biking, prior to stretching.

Myth

“It’s natural to hold your breath while stretching.”

Reality

You should try to breathe normally while you are holding a stretch. This will help you to relax and allow the stretch to do its job.

Myth

“It is okay to feel pain during a stretch.”

Reality

You do not want to push your muscles past their natural limits. You only want to feel a slight discomfort. If you can’t relax, you are stretching too far.

Myth

“Everyone has the same level of flexibility.”

Reality

You shouldn’t compare yourself with others when it comes to stretching. We all have different degrees of flexibility. Comparisons can lead to over stretching and injury.

Make Sure You Treat Your Injury Correctly!

I was stumped on what to write about today so I asked one of our trainers to see if he had any ideas. He thought it would be a good idea to talk about when you need to ice or put heat on an injury! So that is what I am going to discuss! Let me first tell you about what types of injuries require ice and which ones require heat.

Ice Treatment

Ice treatment is most commonly used for acute injuries. An acute injury is an injury of rapid onset and progression but of a limited duration. These types of injuries are usually the result of a specific impact or traumatic event to the body. If you have a recent injury (within the last 48 hours) where swelling is a problem, you should be using ice treatment. Ice packs can help minimize swelling around the injury.

Ice packs are often used after injuries such as an ankle sprain have occurred. Applying an ice pack early and often for the first 48 hours can help minimize swelling. Decreasing swelling around an injury will help to control the pain.

Ice treatments may also be used for chronic conditions, such as overuse injuries in athletes. In this case, ice the injured area after activity to help control inflammation. Never ice a chronic injury before activity.

Here is how to ice an injury and some tips!

Get the ice on quickly. Icing is most effective in the immediate period following an injury. The effect of icing diminishes significantly after about 48 hours.

Perform an “ice massage.” Apply ice directly to the injury. Move the ice frequently, not allowing it to sit in one spot.

Don’t forget to elevate. Keep the injured body part elevated above the heart while icing — this will further help reduce swelling.

Watch the clock. Ice for 15-20 minutes, but never longer. You can cause further damage to the tissues, including frostbite, by icing for too long.

Allow time between treatments. Allow area to warm for at least 45 minutes or an hour before beginning the icing routine again.

Repeat as desired. Ice as frequently as you wish, so long as the area is warm to touch and has normal sensation before repeating.

Tips on How to Ice an Injury

Traditional: Use a Ziploc bag with ice cubes or crushed ice. Add a little water to the ice bag so it will conform to your body.

Best: Keep paper cups filled with water in your freezer. Peel the top of the cup away and massage the ice-cup over the injury in a circular pattern allowing the ice to melt away.

Creative: Use a bag of frozen peas or corn from the frozen goods section. This option provides a reusable treatment method that is also edible.

Prevent Frostbite: Do not allow ice to sit against the skin without a layer of protection. Either continually move the ice (see “ice massage”) or use a thin towel between the ice and skin.

Heat Treatments

Heat treatments should be used for chronic conditions to help relax and loosen tissues, and to stimulate blood flow to the area. Use heat treatments for chronic conditions, such as overuse injuries, before participating in activities.

Do not use heat treatments after activity, and do not use heat after an acute injury. Heating tissues can be accomplished using a heating pad, or even a hot, wet towel. When using heat treatments, be very careful to use a moderate heat for a limited time to avoid burns. Never leave heating pads or towels on for extended periods of time, or while sleeping.

Well there you go! Make sure that you always consult a doctor though before doing anything! If your injury seems to get worse definitely go see a doctor to make sure it isn’t severe!!

Quick and Easy Pre-Workout Foods!

Today is all about pre-workout snacks/meals!! There are a ton of things that you can do for this but here are a few that some of our trainers like to eat before they workout! Now remember you want to get some good carbs to get plenty of energy for your workout. Protein is also another great thing to include in your pre-workout snack!

If your working out in the morning making something that is a little bit more substantial to eat before you leave for the club is perfect. Here is what we like:

  • Oats (unsweetened oatmeal is perfect)
  • Half a whole grain bagel (whole grain is a lot better for you than white bread or just a regular bagel)
  • Piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter (I love this one, probably because I’m obsessed with crunchy peanut butter but still!)
  • Piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and bananas (Channeling our inner Elvis with this one!)
  • Cereal with some fiber (Cheerios, Kashi, Wheaties ect.)

All of these will give you a good start and a nice level of carbs. Now it’s important to eat this part of your pre-workout snack about 2 hours or so before you are going to workout. If this doesn’t work with your schedule that’s fine just make sure you get your carbs in atleast 30-45 minutes before. This will make sure the glucose gets into your bloodstream to give you the energy you need.

If you’re planning on working out after lunch there are a bunch of different options that you can choose from.

  • Turkey, chicken or lean roast beef sandwich on whole-grain bread with cheese, lettuce and mayo
  • Variety of veggies with hummus (here are some great recipes for hummus if you prefer to have it fresh) http://mideastfood.about.com/od/middleeasternfood101/a/hummus101.htm
  • Cottage cheese and fruit (I love it with pineapple or peaches, canned is fine as long as it isn’t canned in the syrup, there’s a ton of sugar that isn’t great for you in that!)
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese (Kashi makes some great whole grain crackers and Fit and Active has really yummy string cheese, I always have it at my desk!)
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Those are all some great ideas for a good lunch before your workout.

A little bit before you workout (30 minutes or so) have a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit. This is great for something just a little bit extra right before your workout and the fruit doesn’t add any calories.

Now if you’re someone who doesn’t like to eat too much before you workout you could always go the liquid route and have a fruit smoothie.  There are a ton of recipes for fruit smoothies online and it basically just depends on what kind of fruit you like! Here’s a recipe for my favorite:

Banana & Black Berry Smoothie

  • 1/2 medium banana
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
 (frozen or fresh, I have wild blackberry bushes at my house so I normally go fresh)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • Just put it all in a blender until its smooth!

I had a salad with salmon, goat cheese and sprouts with the smoothie as well..

Blackberry & Banana Smoothie and salad

If you don’t like to make your own smoothies or if your running late and have no time to make one, the City Blends Smoothies we have here at Westmoreland Athletic Club are great to have pre or even post workout.  There are a bunch of different kinds to pick from and you can add different powders that fit what you are trying to do.

  • Builder Protein
  • Burner Protein
  • Gainer Protein
  • Creatine- It’s great to take before or after your workout. It can greatly enhance your athletic performance by speeding up muscle recovery during intense exercise & helps promote muscle growth.
  • Greens Pack-You can take this one any time, it’s a powerful blend of 18 different nutrients designed to protect healthy cells, assist the body in flushing out toxins, and support overall health & longevity.
  • Energy Pack- It is best to take this before your workout. It’s a natural energizer designed to improve the use of oxygen in muscles, enabling longer aerobic activity and quicker recovery.
  • Fat Loss Pack-You can use this one before or after your workout. It’s a herbal & mineral formula designed to speed up your metabolism, improve energy & assist with fat loss.
  • Wellness Pack-You can take this one anytime. This is a special blend of powerful herbs designed to assist your body in fighting off infection, help the digestive process, & strengthen your immune system.
  • Vita Pack-You can take this one anytime. It is a potent blend of 34 different vitamins & minerals designed to keep the body strong, energized and nourished.

I love the Get Your Peanuts Here smoothie (my obsession with peanut butter is showing again!) It has peanut butter, chocolate powder and Burner Protein in it, but it does have a high calorie count so I don’t get it that often. I normally will get one with a lot of fruit like Strawberry Fields.

City Blends Get Your Peanuts Here Smoothie

Basically there are some staples that you can stick with for your pre-workout food and just sort of mix and match them to what you like!

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Whole grain bread, bagels or crackers
  • Cheese (cottage cheese or regular)
  • Peanut butter
  • Turkey
  • Veggies
  • Hummus
  • Oats
  • Cereals with high fiber
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix of nuts and dried fruit
  • Milk

Now one of the most important things for you to do before, during and after your workout is to be hydrated, make sure you drink around 16-oz of water around 1-2 hours before your workout.

So that’s about it! Some of our trainers favorite pre-workout snacks and some other ones as well! I hope this helped some of you! If you have any foods that you like to eat before you workout comment and share with everyone!

Why Pre-Workout Nutrition Is So Important

A few people on our Facebook page were asking about pre and post workout nutrition, so this week is going to be all about it! I will be posting a bunch of different recipes and ideas for everyone to try all week so hopefully everyone will try some of them! First though I am going to let you know a little bit about pre workout nutrition and why it is so important.

The reason why you need to have a good pre-workout meal is to give your body the energy it needs to perform the workout, it will also help provide your body with the right nutrients to perform at your best.

An effective pre-workout nutrition plan is one that will give you quick energy sources, mostly carbohydrates, that can maintain your energy reserves and also able to provide added blood flow to the muscle tissue.

Like I said, your body obviously needs fuel to support the workout, but there are many variables to consider: like the type of workout you will be dong (endurance vs. strength), the intensity of your workout, length of your workout, and your daily energy requirements. Basically every person will have different needs but there are some general guidelines anyone can follow.

  • Include foods that are tolerable and you like; pre workout is no time to experiment with a new food.
  • Avoid high fat, greasy foods since they take longer to digest and can lead to gastric upset and sluggishness.
  • If you are 2-3 hours pre workout: eat a meal that is approximately 400-500 calories and make sure it includes carbs and proteins; low glycemic index carbs, like whole grains will give you a slow release of energy and sustain your workouts.
  • If you are 1-2 hours prior to a workout: eat a light snack.
  • If you are 30-60 minutes prior to a workout: eat a little piece of fruit, or consume 8 ounces of juice or sports drink.
  • 1 hour prior to your workout as proper hydration plays an important role in performance.
  • The rule is this: The less time until the workout, the less you should eat. This makes sense: It takes time to digest food, so you don’t want to scarf down a huge breakfast right before getting on the treadmill.

Make sure that you are including carbs in your pre-workout meal. It plays an important part in preparing your body for a workout. After working out for longer than 30 minutes your body will start to use its energy reserves, which is normally sugar stored in your liver and muscles.  So you body is going to start using up your muscle tissue and the energy in your blood to keep your body going. The whole point to working out isn’t to get rid of your muscle tissue, which is why you need to consume carbs before hand. These carbs will provide your body with energy by giving you sugar (which your body turns into energy.) Fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice, pasta, and cereals are great to maintain blood glucose (sugar) levels and maximize the carbohydrates.

A perfect time is to eat or drink your nutrition one hour before the workout. You will find that the digestion has already well progressed, and that your body is primed and ready to workout and train. But make sure you are not too full of food or drink before the workout.

So make sure you remember this when you have a snack before your workout! Tomorrow I’m going to give a few recipes for some great pre-workout snacks that are easy to make!!

Tip of the Day: Great Easy Warm-up Exercises

Today I am going to give you some great warm up exercises that you can do at home before you work out!

Typically a warm-up should be between 5 and 10 minutes long, this will warm up your muscles and get your hear rate up high enough for your more intense workout you are having afterwards. There are two different types of warm-ups you can do; dynamic and static.  So I am going to give you some great examples of both!

Dynamic-

A dynamic warm-up is going to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. This should always be done before you do your static warm-up! Some good examples for your dynamic warm-up would be:

High Knees-

  • This is basic running form while bringing the knees up higher than normal – ideally beyond your waistline.
  • Aim to keep your feet moving as fast as possible and your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders facing forwards.

Butt Kicks-

  • Similar to high knees except you keep your thighs perpendicular to the ground while kicking your heels up towards your backside.
  • Move fast and keep ankles, knees, hips and shoulders in alignment.

Grape Vines-

  • Moving laterally to your left, cross your right foot in front of your left.
  • Then step with your left, then cross your right foot behind the left and repeat.
  • Aim for as much hip rotation as possible and keep those feet moving fast!
  • If performed correctly, this looks like a new dance move!

You could also always do a light jog or jump rope for 5-10 minutes to get your heart rate up and your muscles warm. After your dynamic warm-up its time for your static warm-up stretching!

Static-

Now a static warm-up would just be stationary stretching like a good-morning stretch (don’t those always feel so good!) But we learned on Monday that it isn’t good to stretch cold muscles so make sure you always do your static warm-up after your dynamic warm-up. Some examples for your static warm-up would be:

Hands up over your head to stretch your back-

  • Link your fingers above your head and pull slightly upward to stretch out your back.

Standing Quad Stretch-

  • Stand on one leg (grab onto something solid if you need support).
  • Bend your knee and bring your heel toward your buttock.
  • Reach for your ankle with your hand.
  • Stand up straight and feel a slight pull along the front of your thigh and hip.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the other leg.

Be careful not to strain your knee – the goal is not to touch your heel to the buttock, but rather to stretch the thigh.

Shoulder Stretch-

  • Cross one arm horizontally over your chest, grasping it with either your hand or   forearm, just above the elbow joint.
  • Exhale, slowly pulling your upper arm in toward your chest.
  • Aim to keep the hips and shoulders facing forward throughout the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the other arm.

Side Lunge-

  • Stand upright, with both feet facing forward, double shoulder-width apart.
  • Place your hands on your hips, in order to keep your back straight, slowly exhale, taking your bodyweight across to one side.
  • Avoid leaning forward, or taking the knee of the bent leg over your toes. As you increase the stretch, the foot of the bent leg should point slightly outward.
  • To increase the stretch, relax upward, slowly sliding your feet out a few inches to the sides.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat of the other leg.

After you are done doing your dynamic and static warm-ups your ready for your regular exercise routine! Come back tomorrow to check out some great cool down exercises!!

Tip of the Day: Warming Up Before Exercising

Many people wonder why they should warm up before working out and the reasons why it is so important for their bodies. Sometimes when people do not know the reasons behind warming up and what it does for you they will skip it and that is never good!  When you take a group fitness class like our Les Mills Body Combat, Pump, Attack, Step or any of our other classes you always start out a little slow. Lighter weights on the bar, slower less intense moves and stretching are what normally is done in these classes and with our personal trainers.  You do these warm-up exercises without even thinking, just because they are part of the routine. Well this is what warming-up before working out can do for you and why you should never skip it!

Warming up before any physical activity is very beneficial to your body, but its main purpose is to prepare the body and mind for more demanding activity. It also is important to warm-up to help avoid the injuries and aches and pains that can come with exercising. This is why you start out slow with easy low impact exercises and stretching.
An effective warm up helps in raising both your heart rate and your respiratory rate. Doing this increases blood flow, which boosts the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles that are being worked. By increasing your muscle’s temperature you’re helping to make the muscles loose, flexible and pliable. If the warm-up is completed correctly it allows the body to perform at its peak performing ability at the current time.

It’s important to start with the easiest and most gentle activity first, building upon each part with more demanding activities until the body is at its physical and mental peak. This is the state in which the body is most prepared for the physical activity that you will be doing and where the possibility of sports injury has been reduced as much as possible.

Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that doing a few stretches amounts to a warm up. Doing a quick stretch of some of the muscles you will be using doesn’t do your body any good. An effective warm up has a number of very important elements, including stretching and exercises that will increase your heart rate.

A simple warm-up that will work for most people is to start out with a callisthenic exercise like jumping jacks, which works your shoulders, back, thighs and calves; a couple sets of those at your level will start to increase your heart rate. If jumping jacks aren’t your thing, you can do some lunges, marching on the spot, dancing or another type of callisthenic exercise. Make sure you always start slowly and gradually increase your intensity. You can also use a stationary bike, treadmill or an elliptical machine for about 5-10 minutes afterwards to increase your heart rate. You should start to feel warmer and be sweating lightly after about 5-10 minutes. Stretching is next after warming up and easing your body into exercising.

Increasing your heart rate should be followed by a few minutes of easy stretches to increase blood flow to the muscles, which will help improve their flexibility and preventing injury or soreness. Make sure to stretch the muscles you were using in your warm-up and the ones you will be using in your exercise. Warming up and stretching muscles you don’t plan on using doesn’t do you any good.

Another thing you may be asking is what is the length of the warm up. If you are someone who is just starting out working out, haven’t worked out in awhile or if you’re out of shape in general your warm-up should be longer. If you are someone who consistently works out on a daily bases or multiple times a week you can shorten your warm-up. Your warm-up length all depends on your level of fitness.

I hope this helped some of you with why warming-up is so important when you are working out and how you should going about doing it! I hope everyone liked the first Tip of the Day!!