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.
PROTEIN NEEDS: It is recommended that during your pregnancy you should be consuming around 70 grams of protein per day. During pregnancy, a woman requires more protein than the usual 50-60 grams before pregnancy to support the developing fetus and increased need of the mother. The amino acids which make up protein also form the basic building blocks of your body's cells — which in turn also form the building blocks of your baby’s body too. During the second and third trimester is when you should make sure your protein levels are where they should be, especially as this is when your baby will be growing it’s fastest and that means placing more demand on you for all his/her essential nutrients.
PROTEIN SOURCES: There are many different sources of protein, so you shouldn’t really get bored with what you are eating. Foods such as beans, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, and yogurt, are just an example.Make sure you're eating good protein with every meal and snack every day.
Each food portion listed below is the equivalent of one serving, which is about 20 grams of protein:
Beans, Nuts & Legumes
1 cup firm tofu or 1 1/4 cup soft tofu
5 or 6 tablespoons peanut butter
3 oz. peanuts
1 1/2 cups cooked beans such as: chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans, pinto beans, refried beans, lentils or black beans
three 8-oz. glasses soy milk
2/3 cup cottage cheese
2 cups yogurt
3 oz. Swiss, cheddar or most other cheeses
2 oz. Parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
two and a half 8-oz. glasses milk
Meat and fish
3 oz. chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, or veal
**Protein Shakes: The question about protein shakes came up on Twitter yesterday and I want to pay specific attention to this source of protein.
Although eating a well-balanced healthy diet meets daily protein needs, protein shakes offer a convenient way to consume extra dietary protein. A woman should carefully read the ingredient list on food labels of protein shakes or supplements before consuming them during pregnancy
The source of protein found in protein shakes usually consists of whey, casein or soy protein, all of which are safe during pregnancy for most women. Protein shakes may contain ingredients that a pregnant woman will want to avoid. Some brands of protein shakes, specifically those made for sports nutrition or weight loss, may contain artificial sweeteners, herbs or performance-enhancing ingredients which are not recommended during pregnancy. Researchers have not yet established the safety of using herbs during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association, and some herbs may cause injury to the developing fetus.
Since many types of protein shakes promote weight loss, they may contain artificial sweeteners as ingredients. Some artificial sweeteners may be unsafe during pregnancy; research on artificial sweetener use during pregnancy is limited. According to the American Pregnancy Association, sucralose and limited amounts of aspartame are safe to consume during pregnancy, but questions remain about the safety of saccharin.
In general, stick to a pure 100% protein powder to make sure that you are getting just the protein and no additional ingredients that may interfere with your pregnancy. A great option, especially for those with nausea or food cravings is to create your own protein shakes. Start with good 100% protein powder, then add a liquid such as unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, add some ice & fruit for a simple smoothie.
**If a company has a disclaimer "Do not take while pregnant" they may have added additional vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other ingredients that are not recommended for pregnant women. Read the labels and ask your health care provider for details and suggestions.
Teri Lang Patterson
Certified Fitness Instructor & Coach specializing in Aqua Power Training, Kickboxing, Weight Training & Yoga.
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