I want to simplify this as much as possible and clarify that I'm not discussing what workouts to do but instead how your body fuels itself.
You've heard for years that the best way to lose fat weight is to workout as soon as you wake up. But why? Well one of the reasons is that your stomach is empty...so when your body needs fuel during that workout it will look first for any carbohydrates in the stomach to burn. If it can not find carbs, then it will go to the next "source" of fuel which is fat stored in your cells.
Now let's look at the other scenario. You workout right after breakfast. Now image that you just ate a big bowl of oatmeal with fruit. You stomach is full of carbohydrates. Now during that workout, your body is needing some fuel and it finds those carbs first so uses them first. How many carbs are in your stomach? Let's take a single serving of Oatmeal with fruit with an average of 57g of carbs. So you have 57g of carbs (of fuel potential) in your stomach that is waiting for you to burn.
So let's just use some numbers based on a 150lb woman. A one hour water aerobics workout would burn about 5-700 calories and it's research shows that your body can burn about 62g of carbs if they are available. So you eat that bowl of oatmeal and then head to your Aqua Class. You will work off that bowl of oatmeal during an hour of class plus a little more. Another example is if you Walk at a pace of 3mph you will burn about 30g of carbs so only about half of that bowl of oatmeal will be burned and the other half will be stored.
So what if you workout before breakfast (or between meals)? You stomach will be empty and will look for fuel for that workout. Not finding any carbohydrates first, your body will look for "stored fuel" which is stored fat. So instead of waiting to burn fat, your body will start using stored fat first.
This of course is simplifying the whole process and of course we haven't taken into account the amount of stored fat, or your age, or the activity being done but this gives you a simple look at how the food in your stomach, or lack thereof, effects your fat burning. Now of course if you have very low body fat and run for hours at a time, your body will need carbohydrate fuel because your body doesn't have enough stored fat to provide fuel. But that's another blog post for later.
So what if you need to eat something before working out otherwise you feel awful? Then eat a little protein and very minimal carbs. A few almonds or a few bites of grilled chicken are good. Coconut water or milk with a little non sweetened and plain whey protein is good...or just some unsweetened coconut water which gives you some natural electrolytes, and natural carbs but not enough to fill up your stomach.
Remember this: Your body will use carbs, then stored fat and then protein to fuel itself.
My day 3 went pretty well. I did wake up at 4:10am which is NOT like me at all. I couldn't get back to sleep till 5:30am and then proceeded to zonk out till 8:30am. So not a real good start to the day.
I didn't feel hungry at all during the day. I ate some Smoked Gouda, & Deli Turkey for a late breakfast but then nothing till about 3:30pm when I realized how late in the day it was and I hadn't eaten lunch yet. So for that late lunch I had 3 egg whites and 3 slices of super bacon. Why super? Cuz it's BACON!
I became quite tired in the afternoon. Not enough to take a nap...but feeling a little whipped out. I took a rest day from working out just because I was already feeling tired. I probably would have felt better if I at least walked on the treadmill...but didn't. Oh well.
We made some grilled hamburger patties, topped them with grilled onions, cream cheese & grilled jalapenos. Side of avocado & lettuce....was a VERY good combination. The grilled onions really was good with the cream cheese/jalapeno mix.
Was headed to bed early...but a lightning/thunder storm came up right as I was headed to bed. So stayed up a little longer then I wanted to...
On to Day 4.
As many of you know, I live a fairly low carb lifestyle and this is because my body just doesn't process carbohydrates like "normal" people.
I have been living on about 60g of carbs per day (not including veges) for almost 3 years and have felt good. Lately though, I have been gaining a few pounds, feeling "slow", bloated and my allergies have been worse which are all signs to me that my body is in need of a detox of carbs. So last week I decided to do my CARB FREE DETOX for 2 weeks and my husband decided to join me.
Because I've already did this detox for 8 weeks 3 years ago to clear out my system of glucose, I'm just doing 2 weeks now.
If you have ever went carb free, you will understand that the first 4 days are the hardest, since the body is trying to clear out the remaining glucose from your system and it WANTS you to eat carbs. Sugar is a drug in the eyes of your body. Detoxing really does mean "detoxing".
Last time DAY 4 was the WORST for me. I was so agitated and my body was fighting. I woke on Day 5 not knowing what to expect (except I was ready to just cave it in!) but actually awoke feeling a calm in my body and no more physical cravings.
DAY 1: Had a large breakfast of Eggs, & Bacon....I still have my coffee (black) but we're all not perfect! Hubby & I went to Spearfish Canyon to do some hiking & exploring and were out for about 4 hours. NO Fatigue (which is the first question I get from Carb-Lovers)...we ended up at the Spearfish Chophouse for steaks, grilled veges & salad. Felt great! I am already starting to feel not so groggy.
DAY 2: I found a protein shake that tastes great & has 5g of carbs per 2scoops so I had that with some egg whites & bacon. This breakfast is my fallback as I'm not much of a morning person...and don't want to think to hard on that first meal. Really had some good energy all day. I taught a 1-hour Aqua Power class and during the class a couple of people asked me how much coffee I had that day because I had so much energy. I normally have about 3 cups of coffee...same on that day...so the energy was more about the carb free detox then anything. I was planning on putting some fish on the grill but the wind/storms had other plans. I put together some chicken, pecans, celery & onion mixed with a little low fat mayo on a bed of lettuce. Not the most creative or complex meal but it worked. Then had a snack of gouda cheese later in the evening as I watched Hell's Kitchen & Masterchef. Why do I love cooking shows even more when I'm detoxing?
Add these tasty foods to your diet and take advantage of their natural properties to eliminate belly fat & charge up your metabolism.
BANANAS: Slice one over whole grain cereal or into Greek yogurt to beat puffiness. One banana delivers 422 mg of potassium, which helps limit the amount of stomach swelling sodium in your body.
GREEN TEA: Sipping three cups of this brew a day may rev metabolism enough to burn 30 extra calories, thanks to the antioxidant compound ECGC. That's enough to drop about 3 pounds a year without added dieting.
ORANGES: Foods rich in Vitamin C curb fat absorption, and studies show that low levels of the nutrient are linked to bigger waistlines. You need only 75mg a day (the amount in one orange) to trim your tummy. It doesn't get more a-peeling than that!
SPINACH: Diets low in calcium and Vitamin C can increase your odds of gaining belly fat. This leafy green boassts both nutrients, making it doubly slimming. Add fresh into your regular salads, slowly adding more each time. Or add an omelet to get your veges in at breakfast.
GREEK YOGURT: Add some culture to your slim down shopping list. Greek Yogurt encourages the growth of good bacteria in your gut, crowding out the bloat-causing kind. Opt for a greek, unflavored type to avoid added sugars, & flavorings. Instead add your own honey, or fruit to make a perfect pre or post workout meal too!
Today's Blog question comes from Diane on twitter (@pbkup). Question was: Pertaining to dieting, is Dried Fruit good for you?
Answer: Well the answer is Yes & No. What do you say? Dried fruit is sweet, chewy and delicious and is a good source of concentrated vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and.....calories.
Because dried fruit is a concentrated source for good things...it's alot of calories in a small "package". So limit the dried fruit to topping on your unsweetened yogurt or as a sweet addition to your trail mix/nuts. In small amounts, dried fruits provide a portable source for carbohydrates & calories that is needed while hiking or after a workout but remember that the calories are compact.
A tiny warning about dried fruit. Pick an organic, unsweetened option. Did you know that most dried fruit contains many additional ingredients to make them sweeter & last longer on the shelf? Common additives in one dried fruit mix are:
Tart Cherries, Diced Apple, Diced Apricots, Raisins May contain 2% or less of: Sugar, Sunflower oil, Rice flour, Sulphur dioxide for color retention, Potassium sorbate as a preservative, and contains sulfites.
Look for naturally dried fruit and mix with nuts for a healthy on the go snack. Perfect to throw into your gym back for post-workout (see blog post below!) Use as a naturally sweet addition to a high protein snack not as the main ingredient.
This is a common question that I receive from both class participants and other athletes. "So I get done with my workout, now what should or shouldn't eat?"
Your post workout meal/snack's main responsibility is to replenish the body with lost nutrients and vitamins that were lost during an intense workout and repair muscles.
The body needs these to be replenished within about an hour in order to repair muscles, restore any nutrients lost, restore muscle glycogen, and to reduce inflammation that may have occurred. Aim for a carbohydrate to protein ratio of three or four to one, as recommended by C. Kerksick in the Oct. 3, 2008, volume of the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition."
Before you decide on what to eat, you must first decide if this will be a meal or snack. Do you workout pre-breakfast? or maybe you are a mid-afternoon exerciser. No matter what time of day you workout, schedule in your meals and snacks so that your workout falls in between. Don't get caught not eating enough before and after your workout so that your body is too depleted of nutrients to carry your workout.
Some ideas of post workout foods:
So first determine your workout schedule. Make sure to also schedule your pre & post meals so you have enough fuel to take advantage of your workout. And remember that your post-workout fuel is meant to replenish the body & repair your muscles. "RECOVER" is the word post workout...
Teri Lang Patterson
Certified Fitness Instructor & Coach specializing in Aqua Power Training, Kickboxing, Weight Training & Yoga.
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