15 Foods To Eat Before & After Workouts

15 foods to eat before and after workouts

Introduction

Do you actively think about what you should be eating before and after a workout? If you are like most people, you do not and that is a mistake. Why? Your body needs a certain kind of nutrition in each stage of an exercise workout. In this article, we discuss in detail about what to eat both before and after a workout and why those types of foods are best at both ends of an exercise session. 

Before Working Out

As part of your routine of preparing for a workout, your food should mainly consist of both simple and complex carbohydrates in addition to lean protein, healthy fats and fluids. As far as carbs, the simple ones which consist mainly of sugars, digest quicker to give you the quick energy you need at the beginning of your workout. The complex variety, along with fats and proteins, digest slower and provide a more stable blood sugar level to give you enough energy to carry you though to the end of your workout. Recommended foods eaten before a workout to give you the energy you need in the beginning include:

Smoothies

Make your own from yogurt or a milk either dairy or plant-based, such as almond or soy. Add in some fresh fruit and either oatmeal or granola to increase the consistency if you want. Otherwise thicken it up by adding ice cubes before blending.

Greek yogurt and trail mix

Much like a smoothie, the dried fruit in the trail mix provides the energy you need at the beginning while the nuts and seeds help toward the end of your workout.

Whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas

The fruit in this pre-workout combo gives you the quick energy you need while the toast and peanut butter digest more slowly. For a little kick, add a dash or two of cinnamon. Not only does it add flavor, but it is proven to stabilize blood sugar, so you don’t get the “sugar crash”. 

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread

It is hard to go wrong with a PBJ sandwich. The peanut butter has the protein, the bread the complex carbs and the jelly the quick-digesting simple carbs. If you are prone to cramping, throw on a sliced banana on top of the jelly to boost the potassium. And it doesn’t need refrigeration!

Oatmeal with fresh fruit and walnuts

Oatmeal and walnuts take longer to digest while the fruit gives you almost instant energy. The walnuts also have Omega-3 which is a protein so your muscles can get a jump on repair and rebuilding as soon as you are finished exercising. If you don’t have fresh fruit, drizzle a little honey on it instead for some natural sweetness and a quick boost of energy.

Apple wedges and almond butter

Here again, the fresh fruit gives you the boost you need in the beginning, while the almond butter carries the load until the end.

Fruit salad on quinoa with sliced avocado

The sugar in the fresh fruit provides the quick energy while the quinoa helps level out the blood sugar to prevent spiking. The avocado provides the healthy fat and helps prevent inflammation in the muscles. 

Multi-grain crackers with hummus

Spread about 3 tablespoons of hummus on 10 crackers for a great on-the-go snack. You can even make little sandwiches out of them by using two crackers and some filling. As an alternate to hummus, you can use guacamole.

Which is right for you?

One school of thought suggests you should exercise on an empty stomach because you burn more calories and hence more fat. However, studies have proven that you’ll burn about the same number of calories regardless if you eat beforehand or not. The difference is if you don’t have enough spare calories to burn in your kidneys and liver, as is the case if you exercise right away in the morning, your body could end up taking it from your muscles causing a loss of muscle mass which is never good.

After Working Out

Once finished with your workout, your focus should be eating complex carbohydrates, protein and a little healthy fat – the unsaturated kind within the “window of opportunity” 30 minutes to an hour after exercising. Why is the window of opportunity important? Because after an hour post-workout, the body’s ability to replenish the glycogen in the muscles decreases by 50%. Not only does this delay the repairing and rebuilding of the damage done to your muscles from exercising, but you will not have the energy necessary to keep your metabolism burning at it high level for hours afterward – called afterburn. The complex carbs help replenish the glycogen that was used up during the workout while the protein helps the muscles start healing the micro tears that happened and help grow them larger. Don’t go overboard on the protein; 10 to 20 grams is enough. The healthy fat helps break down the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, that are chocked full of antioxidants. Foods that work well post-workout include:

Protein shake

One banana, a scoop of protein powder and some almond milk makes a great post-workout snack. Add in a few ice cubes to thicken and get it cold.

Grilled chicken and mix vegetables

Spread some heart-friendly olive oil on the chicken and veggies before grilling to add in some flavor and color to the meat.

Veggie omelet with avocado

Eggs are one of the best natural sources of protein for your muscles. The avocado of course is your source of unsaturated fat. 

Grilled salmon with sweet potato

In this case, the fish provides the much-needed unsaturated fat and the complex carbs comes from the sweet potato.

Tuna fish on whole wheat toast

Whole grain provides the complex carbs while the tuna is a good source of complex carbs and healthy fat. Instead of using mayo on the bread, spread a thin layer of hummus and a few leaves of spinach. Be sure to buy the canned tuna packed in water instead of oil. That way you won’t lose the omega-3s as they are an oil and will not mix (and get thrown out) with the water as they would if packed in oil.

Pizza

No, not take-out, delivery or even one you buy in the store. This one is made at home on a whole wheat crust with a little buffalo wing sauce, topped with fresh vegetables and a chopped up grilled chicken breast. The beauty of it is it only takes 15 minutes from start to finish and gives you around 55 grams of protein along with 10 grams of fiber.

Burrito and Beans

If you like Hispanic cuisine, try a burrito filled with a ½ cup of black beans, ½ cup of brown rice and 2 tablespoons of guacamole, rolled and topped with a little salsa. Fiber, complex carbs and a healthy fat all rolled into one! 

Chocolate milk

This drink hit the newer post-workout crowd by storm (or should we say again, as the older body-builders have used this trick for a long time). In the past, water or a sports drink was the liquid of choice after a workout, but where else can you replace the carbs, calcium, sodium, sugar and water lost during your workout in one glass, along with the getting the protein your muscles need in recovery. Chocolate milk is perhaps the perfect post-workout drink. It falls in line with the research results from Central Washington University that found at carb-to-protein ratio of 4:1 as being the perfect combination for post-workout muscle recovery. 

During a Workout

So far, we have covered in great detail how to eat before and after a workout, but what should you be doing during a workout? If you are working out over 60 minutes, you can lose up to 2% of your bodyweight in fluids which affects your performance. To prevent this, drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes during your workout. For endurance workouts lasting over 90 minutes, consume some simple carbs along the way, like a sports gel pack, banana or one ounce of dried fruit along with alternating between water and a sports drink to keep your fluid levels up. These are only a small number of the food combinations you can make and eat both before and after a workout. With a little creativeness, you can create your own delicious and nutritious pre- and post-workout meals.

Stay hydrated

In most cases for exercise workouts lasting less than an hour, the best hydration is just plain water. Make sure you start your exercise program hydrated by drinking at least two 8-ounce glasses of water about two hours before starting your exercise workout. Keep drinking enough water to replace what you lost about every 15 minutes. Rehydrate with another two glasses or so after your workout. If you work out for over an hour, or in hot humid conditions, then you might benefit from a sports drink as it can help replenish lost electrolytes and fluid. A good one should have around 14 to 15 grams of carbohydrate in 8 ounces. Sodium should be around 110 milligrams with potassium at 30 milligrams. The sodium and potassium get these two electrolyte level back up where they belong and prevent muscle cramping. 

Eating right before and after a workout not only improves your performance, but also help you recover faster. Carbs (both simple and complex), protein and healthy fats all play a role in not only getting you ready for a workout, but refueling you afterwards and starting the recovery process. Eating the right foods “does a body good.”

6 Reasons Why Walking is Great for Women

10 benefits of cardio

Walking is often overlooked as a cardio activity because it is something we do every day. So much emphasis is placed on hard workouts like CrossFit and running, that most women forget that walking is one of the best forms of cardio out there.

While it cannot be denied that the results that you get from walking will come much more slowly than what you’d get with high-intensity training, the fact of the matter is that you will get results. If your diet is clean and you’re at a caloric deficit, walking can be a very effective form of cardio.

The points below will state why women who have led sedentary lives or prefer less strenuous workouts should adopt walking as a form of cardio training.

1.. Easier & Low Impact

Walking is easier to do and you’ll not be panting and gasping for air like you would with running or other strenuous forms of exercise. If you’ve not exercised in a long time, walking will be a great way to start getting active. If you’re overweight, it will also be easier on your joints.

You’ll be less likely to develop joint pain or delayed onset muscle soreness. Ideally, your walks should be brisk and purposeful. This will get your heart pumping and boost your metabolic rate.

2.. Strengthens Your Joints and Bones

Walking prevents or delays the onset of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis by strengthening the bones. Women with these problems have noticed an improvement in their condition when they started walking three to five times a week.

3.. Makes Exercise a Habit

One reason so many women give up on their weight loss and fitness journey is because they start skipping workouts. Once they do that, they feel guilty that they’ve let themselves down and they end up quitting. The truth of the matter is that they often dread the hard workouts.

While high intensity interval training and weight training are very useful for getting fit and healthy, they are strenuous and require determination. Women who do these forms of exercise have usually inculcated the habit of regular exercise. That’s how they stick to the program. Habit is what keeps you going when motivation starts to wane.

However, women who do not have that habit will throw in the towel because it just seems too torturous to train so hard. Walking, however, is an easy form of exercise. 30 minutes of walking is nowhere near as intimidating as a 30-minute high intensity interval training session.

So, women who fear tough workouts can still adopt walking and benefit from exercise. Even moderate exercise is better than no exercise. Once you develop the habit of walking regularly, you may try short runs and so on. But when you’re starting off, walking is much easier to adopt.

4.. Helps Relieve Stress

Stress causes a plethora of health problems. Walking helps to relieve stress. It gets better if you walk somewhere scenic where you can appreciate your surroundings. It’s a wonderful and natural form of stress relief.

5.. Promotes Better Sleep

It’s also a great way to overcome sleep disorders. Studies have shown that people who walked 3 to 4 times a week for 4 months were able to sleep faster and for longer periods. The goal is to walk early in the day so that your body is calm by bedtime.

6.. Burns Calories and Fat

Walking burns calories too. It may not burn as many calories as other types of training but it does burn calories and that’s what matters. As mentioned earlier, some exercise is better than none.

If you’re at a caloric deficit daily, you’ll still lose weight. It may take longer but you’ll get there. The price to pay for speed is exertion and tough workouts. If you’re willing to be patient, walking will help you shed all the excess pounds and get you to your ideal weight in time.

These 6 benefits should convince you that walking is a wonderful form of exercise. Even for women who engage in high-intensity activities, replacing a workout with a walk every now and then will give your nervous system a break from the continuous stress placed upon it by hard training. If you’re inactive, do start walking today. Your body will thank you for it in future.

FREE Online Yoga Classes For Beginners

Introduction To Yoga For Beginners:

With the advent of holistic therapies, there’s been an increase in the popularity of yoga. More people than ever before are joining yoga studios and trying to do the sun salutation without breaking their back.

All levity aside, yoga is easy to learn, inexpensive to practice, doesn’t require large spaces or heavy equipment and can be done in the privacy of your own home.

This write-up entails all that I’ve learned about yoga from its history to the positive effects that it can have on your body.

This write-up also serves as a guide for aspiring yogis (or yoga practitioners) and people who wish to know more about yoga, and serve as professional Yoga practitioners in studios.

It covers the basic asanas (yoga pose, posture or position of the body), the do’s and don’ts of practicing yoga and other helpful tips for newbies to avoid injuries and perform advanced level asanas and teach others as well.

Yoga is a mental, physical and spiritual practice which originated in ancient India. It includes the deliberate control of the breath or prana in Sanskrit (life force) for spiritual enlightenment.

It also employs a specific meditation to control the mind and performance of various postures or asanas to strengthen the body and retain health and vigour.  Yoga’s boost in popularity among the masses is due to its ability to bestow health and relaxation.

Various perspectives and beliefs in yoga were derived from different religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.

There are 4 essential description about Yoga:

  • Yoga also refers to six orthodox schools ofHindu philosophy (darśana);
  • Yoga being linked to the words, “hatha-, mantra-, and laya-,” pertains to traditions specializing in certain techniques of yoga;
  • Yoga may help in attaining a goal when you practice discipline;
  • Yoga has its techniques to control your body and the mind;

Types of Yoga:

Yoga in Sanskrit means “to unite” or “to join” in its most literal sense. Yoga is an ancient meditation technique dating back to the 5th and 6th century. There is a broad variety of schools of thought regarding its practices and goals in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

The four paths of Yoga are Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga. These four paths of Yoga are characterized as a whole. The four paths of Yoga work hand in hand.

  • Bhakti Yoga: the yoga of devotion and self surrender. This is said to be the simplest and easiest path because we are not asked to do anything but give up all control.
  • Karma Yoga: is the yoga of action, in this practice, we practice non-attachment with every deed, word, and thought.
  • Raja Yoga: also called Ashtanga yoga is the synthesis of the above two and focuses on controlling the mind in order to bring it into stillness.
  • Jnana Yoga: Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom, introspection and contemplation. It involves deep exploration of a human’s personality by systematically exploring and setting aside false identities.

The essence of spirituality, as taught in the four paths of yoga is to let nature run its course. Aim for living in the moment – and thinking rationally in different situations. When you learn to accept your shortcomings in life and understand that nothing you do will alter its course significantly, you become stronger and more amenable to accepting the life you are living.

You become more drawn towards your life goals, but you also believe that whatever happens has been deemed as the best course of life for you. This results in harmony between your internal and external environment. You’ll develop a contented heart and a mind that’s at peace.

Yoga practitioners these days integrate these four paths of yoga, to create a sense of contentment and a feeling of inner satisfaction. These four paths allow the cleansing of the body and mind, and remove any negative thoughts.

Regular yoga practice improves body balance, flexibility and stamina in our core – a healthy, strong and alert heart.

Health Benefits of Yoga:

Asanas are different for different age groups, yet they have one common principle; holding the tension between the muscles. Different muscle groups are focused on different postures, ensuring benefit to all body systems.

  • Improved blood flow to the peripheral blood vessels, leading to improved cardiovascular function.
  • Exercises of abdominal muscles improve digestion and help to remove body fat.
  • Gentle relaxation helps to ease muscle tension, while different postures allow complete joint mobility. This leads to increased strength of joints, and muscle flexibility.
  • As yoga is aimed at relaxation of the mind, long term benefits are reduced stress and anxiety, increased stamina and maintenance of composure.

Yoga vs Gym – Which is better?

People aiming to be fit and stay in shape generally consider 2 options – join a gym and lift weights or practice yoga regularly Both have different aspects and different approaches when it comes to building strength.

There’s no denying that the atmosphere in a gym is pumped up and energetic. The special equipment available is excellent for weight loss and building muscle. There are a plethora of weight machines and cardio equipment from treadmills to stair climbers. You’ll lose weight much faster with weight training and cardio than you would with yoga.

However, gym memberships are expensive and you have to set aside specific times to hit the gym. Gyms have specific opening and closing times, which may not necessarily fit in with your schedule.

Yoga is more suitable for people with odd working hours or those who want more flexibility with their daily schedule. Practicing yoga does not require specific timing and you can do yoga at any time of the day.

You don’t require any special equipment nor a large space for practicing Yoga – you do not even need to sign up and pay a high membership fee. You can always join a yoga studio and learn the basics in a week, and can incorporate asanas whenever you like it as you practice yoga in your own home.

You may not lose weight quickly, but you’ll definitely be comfortable with your surroundings, and this is why yoga is favored by the Millennials today.

With odd working hours and living in a metropolis where basic necessities that includes food and residence are expensive, yoga is a cost-effective practice which can keep you fit and promote tranquility and a strong core.