Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’
It’s always ill-advised to eat a lot before a workout, though some people are susceptible to low blood sugar or low energy levels if they don’t get enough food before physical activity. If you’re one of those people who don’t perform better on an empty stomach, then you’re probably familiar with trying to strike a balance of having a little bit of food before a workout, but not so much that it slows you down an hour later.
A lot of what determines whether or not you’re able to strike that balance is related to what you’re eating, just the same as how much of it you consume. Keeping the portion low is obvious, but the type of food you should be eating isn’t quite so clear.
To figure that out, let’s start with some simple facts about what our body needs for energy:
- Fluids – Hydration is crucial to maintaining our energy during any physical activity.
- Protein – Protein is generally thought of as a post workout need, though it’s also crucial to your energy levels before you even get to the gym.
- Carbohydrates – Protein combined with good carbohydrates will be your provide you with a more sustained amount of energy. Having one without the other is alright, but ideally we’ll be able to include both in the pre-workout snack.
Our goal now is to find snacks that incorporate all three of these elements. Remember that we’re trying to keep our portions fairly low, so a small serving size should already be assumed.
1. Yogurt with Granola and Green Tea – Here you’ve got your protein, carbohydrates and a little bit of caffeine to top it all off. Green tea in and of itself can be an excellent way to hydrate before a workout, so feel free to combine it with any other food choice. Since the yogurt is a dairy product, it needs to be a small portion to avoid hitting your stomach too hard. In fact, half a cup or less will be plenty to sustain you.
2. Pretzels and String Cheese – The salt in pretzels will actually help you hydrate by helping your body absorb fluids. Make sure that you balance it out by drinking water before and during your workout.
Though it might not seem like a healthy choice, keep in mind that we aren’t trying to prepare a meal’s worth of good choices; rather we’re just trying to get you enough energy to get you through your workout routine. The cheese and pretzels gives you a good combination of protein and carbohydrates, which is exactly what you need to do the job. It’s also easy to eat.
3. Rice, Black Beans and Black Coffee – A great thing about this combination is that it’s easy to digest and highly unlikely to give your stomach any trouble. While it’s not a bad idea to make a habit of consuming black beans on a regular basis, they’re particularly good for you right before a workout. Black beans provide you with protein and a little bit of fiber as well. Add the rice and you’re good to go. Include the black coffee in small doses for the caffeine and anti-oxidants.
4. Grilled Chicken and Whole Wheat Pasta – The disadvantage here is that there’s some preparation involved and you’ll also want to be careful to not eat too much of this as it shapes up more like a meal than a snack.
Perhaps if you have leftover chicken and pasta, a small serving of both with some parmesan cheese will be an ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates.
Remember to keep all these combination to small portions, somewhere around 1 cup or less. This can be hard to do if you’re really hungry, but keep in mind that even a small amount of food can keep your hunger down for a fairly long time.
The tea and coffee can be included with any snack you choose, though be sure and drink them in moderation to avoid depending on the caffeine itself for your energy. They also shouldn’t be thought of as a water replacement as you should be drinking plenty of water before and during your workout.
To finish up, I’ll list a few foods that can be worked into the above combinations.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Turkey Slices
- Apple Slices
- Oranges or Orange Juice
- Raw Spinach
Jennifer Fox is a nutrition consultant. She enjoys sharing her tips and insights on various health and lifestyle topics.
When I was younger (late teens, early twenties), I was good about incorporating exercise into my daily routine. I’ve never been an athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I led a fairly active life.
My first child was born during those younger years. My body bounced right back and I was soon in as good of shape or better than before I was pregnant.
Fast forward seventeen years and you will find a very different mom! My twins were born when I was thirty-five years old. Somehow I actually managed to lose the entire fifty pounds I gained during pregnancy, but my body looks entirely different than it did before I was pregnant. It will definitely take more structured exercise to work on those stubborn areas of my body.
Did I say exercise? Somewhere along the line that word was excluded from my vocabulary. Who has time to exercise? I thought chasing my boys around would be plenty enough exercise, but as time goes on I am realizing that is just not the case.
There are a number of ways you can incorporate exercise into your daily schedule, but if you are a stay-at-home mom, your time and resources are probably fairly limited. Here are some ideas for working exercise into your daily routine:
Take your children for regular walks. Especially if you have young children, they are easy to put into a stroller and take on a long walk around the neighborhood. I have found that even when I don’t find any other time to excercise, it is fairly easy to keep walking every day once you get into the routine. My boys love to sight see while we are on our walks, and when they get older we will find a way to expand our walks in a way that will be more educational for them (e.g. nature walks). During the winter time, many moms push their strollers around the local mall for excercise.
Walking is great for your heart, but maintaining muscle tone is also very important. It seems like after I hit the magic age of thirty I was spending more and more time in my chiropractor’s office. Exercise videos are an easy way to work on your muscle tone. I have a hard time doing these every day, but even if you do them a couple of times a week (in addition to walking) it will really help your muscle tone. This type of exercise reduces back aches, muscle tension, and gives you more energy.
Exercise videos are also great for kids. They will surely want to get in on the action and participate (there are even videos just for kids). They find it quite entertaining. There are hundreds of exercise videos on the market. I am currently a fan of Jillian Michaels’ work out videos. You might remember her from the Biggest Loser television show. Her videos are great. They are a very thorough workout, but include beginner exercises too, so they fit the needs of all exercise levels. You can find her videos just about anywhere. I bought a complete set that was cheaper than buying the individual videos.
An easy way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine is through household chores. Gardening and house cleaning provide great opportunities to work off those extra calories. During the summer my boys and I spend almost all of every morning outside. I work around the yard and they play…works out great for all of us.
You can also join an exercise class. I have found our local health club to be too expensive for our family, especially when you add on childcare fees. Most communities offer inexpensive exercise classes, although often they do not offer childcare. Some, however, are scheduled very early in the morning so you might be able to squeeze one in before your husband leaves for work.
Churches are also a great resource. Our church offers an inexpensive exercise class that is open to the entire community. Childcare is either free or very inexpensive and it’s also a great way for women get out of the house for awhile while also getting some exercise.
If you’re not sure you are healthy enough for a regular exercise routine, make sure to check with your doctor first. I still make periodic appointments with my chiropractor to make sure I am not exercising while my back’s out of alignment.
I hope these ideas have got you thinking about how you can incorporate exercise into your daily schedule. You can’t afford not to. We aren’t getting any younger, and exercise is very important to staying healthy as we get older. It a necessity, not an option.
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of five. For resources for the Christian family, including parenting, toddler and preschool activities, homeschooling, family traditions, and more, visit http://www.christian-parent.com