Welcome to Fuel Food Friday! Last week I blogged about finding the right fuel for you body post long run or high output workout. This week is all about getting something in your belly before you workout.
A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook last week about eating before working out. I can't for the life of me find the post (Esther if you are reading this, I'd love the link again!), but the whole article was very pro no-food before a workout. As there are two sides to every fence and story, there are also two points of view on eating before a high output workout. To eat or not to eat, that is the question.
I offer you both points of view:
Food provides fuel for your workout
Improved muscle mass
Increased energy levels
Better mental focus
Not To Eat
Increases fat burning in the muscle during exercise
I honestly tried to find more advantages to not eating before working out and couldn't find anything more. A Google search reveals literally dozens of articles and blog posts written on the not eating side of the debate, all quoting the same couple of studies and each other ad infinitum. AND to top it off, the original studies emphasize this only applies to the efficiency of your muscle's ability to burn fat as fuel during exercise, not how your body approaches burning excess body fat any other time of day. If you are looking for the mysterious, magical secret to losing body fat faster, its not there. There is no substitute for healthy eating, proper food portioning through out the day and exercise several times a week. Hard work and discipline boys and girls. There's no way around it!
Not eating also increases your chance for injury, leaves you with low blood sugar (particularly dangerous for diabetics or pre-diabetics), increases your recovery time post-workout, and can have the adverse effect of eating more than you should post-workout because you're so darn hungry! I would also argue that because you aren't properly fueled, you aren't able to perform at optimum intensity, thus burning less fat, which equates to less calorie burning, for those that still calorie count.
The general consensus for a pre-workout meal is something small that isn't going to sit like a rock in your stomach causing cramping. My personal favourite is some kind of smoothie.
Behold my latest creation (tastes like a Coffee Crisp bar!):
WOD (or run) Kickin' Coffee Smoothie
1/2 cup cold coffee
1 cup almond milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice cubes (more if you like thick smoothies)
1 heaping tblsp almond butter
1/2 to 1 scoop protein powder
2 tsp cocao powder
Add all to blender and blend until you get the right consistency for you.
This is the perfect amount of food for me. I drink it 20-30 minutes before working out or running. No sloshing or cramping, and keeps me fueled for the duration of my workout.