It’s 5 p.m. — time to clock out and get ready to work out. But lunch was hours ago, and now you’re zombie-level starving. So, what’s the best snack to fuel your p.m. workout? Your pre-workout snack should definitely be carb-heavy, but it’s not that simple.
“First you need to ask yourself what your goal is,” says Chad M. Kerksick, Ph.D, an assistant professor of exercise science at Lindenwood University in Missouri.
Are you going to do cardio or strength training? Each objective calls for a different pre-and post-exercise snack strategy. So what should you eat?
“The type and amount of food will depend on what type of workout you plan to do, your fitness/health goals, and how long you have until your workout,” says Krista Haynes, R.D., C.S.S.D., and nutrition manager at Beachbody.
And you don’t want to wait too long to get in your workout: “You should also be mindful of how certain foods or beverages (for example, caffeine) and exercise programs can affect your sleep.” (More on that later…)
How Far Ahead of Your Evening Workout Do You Need to Eat?
Let’s start with the timing of your meal or snack: There’s no hard-set rule on how far ahead of your evening workout you need to eat.
Haynes suggests figuring out how much time you have before your workout, then counting backward to determine how much, if anything at all, you should eat before an after-work sweat session starts.
“The main goals of eating pre-workout are to avoid hunger, delay fatigue, minimize gastrointestinal distress, and maintain hydration,” Haynes says. Here’s her down-to-the-minute guide to fueling before a p.m. workout:
If you have 30 minutes or so: “You could either skip the snack if you’ve fueled yourself well throughout the day and don’t have an intense workout planned, or if you’re hungry and low on energy, you can eat a small, easy-to-digest snack,” advises Haynes.
Choose a snack that has about 15 to 20 grams of carbs, like half of a large banana. “Be sure whatever it is, that it won’t cause digestive issues,” she says. (This isn’t the time for chips and salsa!)
Keep these next few suggestions in mind for tomorrow’s workout, if you can plan ahead:
If you have an hour: Haynes says you should still keep it pretty light and focus on carbs. Depending on how long ago you ate, your body may be running low on glycogen, especially if you’re following a calorie-restricted eating plan.
Just keep in mind it takes a few hours for food to digest and when you work out, blood moves away from the intestines and toward the working muscles. If you give your stomach too much to handle too close to a workout, you may experience some digestive issues.
A good snack choice would be around 150 to 200 calories — perhaps a slice of toast with a touch of nut butter or some yogurt topped with berries.
If you have two hours: “Bump it up a little bit,” she says. Focus on carbs, but don’t be shy to add a little bit of protein or healthy fats. A small bowl of oatmeal (even if it’s not breakfast time) with sliced banana and a few walnuts could hit the spot, or a pre-workout smoothie can easily hold you over and fuel your evening workout.
If you have more than two hours: If you have three or four hours before you plan to hit the gym, you can consume larger portions. “This would be more of a moderate meal than a snack,” says Haynes. (Refer back to this info when you’re planning your lunch and know you want to work out after work.)
A balanced meal with some complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats can fuel you and provide steadier blood sugar delivery so that your afternoon workout will rock.
Keep this general guidance in mind, too: “Depending on what the workout is and your goals, you should be mindful of what you’re eating at all times,” says Haynes. “However, earlier meals like breakfast won’t have a significant, direct impact on your evening workout.”
If weight loss is your goal, you’ll keep overall calorie intake in mind. “Perhaps shifting some carbs from breakfast to your pre-workout meal could not only help fuel your evening workout, it helps keep your daily calories in check,” says Haynes.
When you’re working on growing your muscles, the American College of Sports Medicine discourages working out on an empty stomach and encourages providing enough energy, including protein, to promote new muscle growth and repair.
“Pre-workout protein consumption isn’t as widely accepted in the science community, but post-exercise protein intake most certainly is,” says Haynes. You’ll want to aim for about 20 to 30 grams of protein post-workout, and keep those amounts in mind as a protein goal for each meal.
“In addition, if you have a big strength workout planned, you may want to increase your carbs at lunch to top off muscle glycogen stores,” she says. “For strength workouts, you don’t have to be as worried about high-fiber foods or healthy fats potentially causing digestive discomfort as much as you would for more jarring activities like running.”
No matter what your fitness goal is, you’ll want to make sure you’re eating enough during the day. “You don’t want to under fuel your body, so consuming well-balanced meals throughout the day will provide enough energy to fuel your workouts and help your body recover post-workout,” says Haynes.
How Many Calories Do You Need Before an Afternoon Workout?
Beyond the timing of your snack or meal, do you know how many calories you need before a p.m. workout? (It’s at least 100 to 150.) Your macro needs may differ depending on your activity and how much time you have to digest, but Haynes says you should “think mainly carbs for pre-workout snacks to help fuel you.”
Caloriewise, Haynes says you’ll need to consider your total daily calorie needs in addition to what you’ve had that day — and how long you have until you plan to work out.
“A good rule of thumb if you need a pre-workout bite is about 100 to 150 calories for every hour you have prior to your workout,” she says. “This doesn’t mean eat every hour, but figure out when you’ll work out, work backwards, and determine how big that snack should be or if you even need an extra snack at all.”
What about protein? “If you want, it can include a little bit of protein; however, research is insufficient as to whether pre-workout protein can help prevent protein breakdown during exercise or stimulate muscle protein synthesis post-workout,” Haynes adds. (After a workout is definitely the time to focus on protein.)
“Fat can often cause digestive issues,” she advises, so skip it or include minimal amounts in your pre-workout snack.
The Best Pre-Workout Snacks for Fuel
What are her favorite snacks to fuel an evening workout? Haynes shares these as some of the best snacks to fuel your p.m. workout.
If you’re about to rush out the door to work out (like, right now!), refer back to her suggestions for eating with less time to spare before a workout. After all, nobody likes bonking during a workout!
What to Eat Before an Evening Strength-Training Workout
When you’re focused on building muscle or burning fat, pre-workout fueling can get a little more complicated. The macro breakdown of what to eat before an evening strength-training workout “would vary depending on what stage you are in,” says Haynes, adding that your needs are different in the bulking versus cutting phases of a program, for example.
“However, the protocol is similar to cardio, as you want to be sure your muscles have enough glycogen to fuel your lifting,” Haynes says. In other words, before your evening workout is not the time to embrace the low-carb lifestyle. Carbs are “a primary fuel source, so they need to be there in adequate amounts,” adds Kerksick.
What to Eat Before an Evening Cardio Workout
Unlike with strength training, what to eat before an evening cardio workout is pretty straightforward most of the time. If you’re doing endurance or cardio activities (especially for over an hour), you want to keep your glycogen stores topped off, says Haynes. “Choosing carbohydrate-rich foods will help keep you fueled throughout your workout,” she says.
What to Eat Before Evening Yoga
What about less-intense workouts? Do you know what to eat before evening yoga? Down dog with a full belly is a mistake you’ll only make once! “For lighter activities like yoga, fueling isn’t as important,” says Haynes.
She adds two exceptions: “Hot yoga, where hydration must be considered, or power yoga that may require more stamina.”
Less is more when fueling before evening yoga. “Due to the twists, core-based postures, and breathwork (aka pranayama),” it’s often advised to have an “empty” stomach when you do yoga, says Haynes.
Instead, focus more on earlier meals: “I’d recommend focusing on eating a well-balanced diet throughout the day if you plan on taking an evening yoga class.”
How Can You Energize Your Evening Workouts?
You know that feeling of wanting to exercise, knowing you’ll feel great afterward, but having no energy to work out (especially after work). How can you energize your evening workouts without staying up all night? Caffeine has been shown to impact sleep even six hours before bed, so Haynes says to remember that “food is energy.”
The snacks she shared “should help without keeping you up late at night like caffeinated beverages,” she says. But caffeine affects everyone differently. “Some may tolerate caffeine at night without compromising sleep,” she says. “Also keep in mind that working out late at night may also be a culprit if you’re not getting quality shut-eye.” Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul!
Before your next after-workout exercise session catches you unprepared (aka hungry and tired), consider planning ahead and thinking about that all-important recovery phase, sleep. Here’s how exercise can help you sleep better, and then figure out when to stop eating at night (you’ll also find out what to eat before bed to set yourself muscles up for recovery while you rest).
The Bottom Line
What you should eat before an evening workout depends on the type of workout you’re doing and how much time you have. Keep it small and simple, embrace carbs, and you’ll be ready to crush your evening workout!
What to Eat Before Your Afternoon Workout was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/best-pre-workout-snack" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/best-pre-workout-snack</a> by Lili Ladaga
YES — You Can Lose Weight Without “Starving”!
The other day, one of my weight-loss clients told me that she’d been “starving” while waiting for lunchtime to come around.
Of course, she didn’t mean that she was literally starving. She was just trying to say she was feeling “especially hungry.”
But I always discourage people I work with from using that word, because — aside from being insensitive to the fact that lots of people really ARE starving — it just creates a terrible mindset for anyone who’s trying to eat purposefully and lose weight.
Whenever you say that you’re starving (even in jest), some part of you begins to panic. And that feeling of panic can lead to bad decisions — like choosing to eat the next thing in sight.
And when the next thing in sight is a bag of chips or a sugary snack — that’s a choice that won’t help you reach your weight-loss goals and probably won’t even alleviate your hunger for long.
So before switching into panic mode, I advise my clients to take a breath — and instead of saying “I’m starving,” — say “I’m okay, I’m just hungry and I need to eat something.”
I always tell them to start by drinking water first (because hunger is very often dehydration in disguise!) and to remind themselves of WHY they’re trying to lose weight.
After that, it takes them just a few extra minutes to think of a healthy, filling option that will satisfy their hunger, nourish their bodies, and still help them reach their weight-loss goals.
Remember, you’re always in control of the food you eat — that’s an amazingly liberating idea!
Learn to eat because you’re hungry — not because you’re “starving” — and you’ll take a giant step down the path to a positive weight loss and mindset.
Be sure to look for my new nutrition program — the 2B Mindset™ — available beginning May 2 on TeamBeachbody.com.
It’s a healthy approach to weight loss that shows you how to coexist with food in real-world situations, outsmart your cravings, and manage setbacks before they even occur.
Best of all, it is designed to help you feel full and satisfied after every meal — so you can lose weight happily and learn to keep it off for good.
Enter your email address below to receive Ilana’s “5 Simple Secrets To Outsmart Overeating,” plus more free weight-loss tips and updates about the 2B Mindset.
Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., created the 2B Mindset as a way to help herself lose 100 pounds — and keep it off — after years of unsuccessful dieting.
After becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, she refined her breakthrough approach to healthy eating into a system simple enough for everyone to learn. To date, hundreds of her private practice clients have successfully lost weight using the same powerful principles she developed for herself.
Today, she’s excited to share those secrets with anyone who wants to lose weight without feeling hungry or deprived — with the 2B Mindset.
YES — You Can Lose Weight Without “Starving”! was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/lose-weight-without-starving" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/lose-weight-without-starving</a> by
13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program
Weightlifting is straightforward in theory (you just, erm…lift weights, right?). But it’s a bit more complicated in practice. As a beginner to weightlifting, it’s confusing (not to mention intimidating) to figure out which muscles to target, how much to lift, and how often to work out. How are you supposed to know where to even begin with finding a good weightlifting program?
Although it might seem daunting at first, the benefits of lifting weights far outweigh any hurdles you might have to getting started. William P. Kelley, C.S.C.S, ATC, says some major benefits of weightlifting include improved strength, bone density, and heart health. Studies even suggest that it can help keep your brain sharp, as well as increase energy levels and decrease stress.
Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content, notes that lifting weights is also an effective way to lose weight: “Weightlifting can help you lose fat faster than steady state cardio because it keeps your metabolism elevated for longer post workout,” he explains. “The result is that it helps you burn more total calories.”
But before you get to enjoy all the benefits of lifting weights, you first have to get started. The first step? Creating smart goals.
What Are Your Weightlifting Goals?
“Goal-setting is critical to guiding your weightlifting path,” Kelley says. Before you even choose a weightlifting program, consider what you want to get out of it. Are you training for a specific event, for general health, or with aesthetics in mind? Do you want to lose weight, build strength, pack on muscle, or achieve a combination of any or all three of those goals?
“Each objective requires a different strategy, and by identifying your goal or goals, you can identify the most effective training program to achieve it,” Thieme says. The tips below will help you do that.
If you need some extra guidance to help you get started, check out Beachbody On Demand’s weightlifting programs, like Body Beast (which focuses on muscle building) and A Week of Hard Labor (an intense, five-day weightlifting routine). Both programs can help you achieve the lean, muscular physique you’ve always dreamed of building. (See the results for yourself!)
13 Common Questions About Starting a Weightlifting Program
These 13 questions and answers will give you the information you need to start lifting weights, including basic training tips and mistakes to avoid.
1. What equipment do I need for a weightlifting program?
If you’re starting an at-home weightlifting program, dumbbells are a necessity — but having just a single pair may not cut it.
Thieme says you need different weights to effectively challenge different muscle groups. Your legs should be able to handle heavier weights than your triceps, for example. That’s why he recommends investing in a pair of selectorized (AKA adjustable) dumbbells (like this set of Bowflex dumbbells). “A single pair of dumbbells can replace an entire dumbbell rack, saving you hundreds of dollars—not to mention lots of floor space,” he says.
A bench is another useful piece of equipment for developing overall strength and power, Kelly says, although you could get by without one if you’re short on space.
2. How much weight should I lift?
“You should always lift the heaviest amount of weight that allows you to complete all of your reps and sets for all of the exercises in your workout,” Thieme says.
If you can’t maintain proper form for the last several reps of an exercise, go lighter. If you can breeze through your reps with the last few feeling as comfortable as the first few, go heavier. The key to achieving muscle growth is to find your sweet spot, which in this case means a weight that challenges you without forcing you to sacrifice good form.
3. How many reps and sets should I do for each weightlifting exercise?
First, consider your weightlifting goals. “If you want increased strength, you should do from two to six reps per set. For hypertrophy [muscle growth] do eight to 12 reps. And for endurance, do 15 to 20 reps,” Kelley says.
As for sets, Thieme says it’s important to do multiple sets of each exercise, no matter your goal. Three sets per exercise is generally a good number, but don’t lock yourself into that. As long as you’re doing at least two and not more than five or six, you’re good. And if you want to increase your strength, build bigger muscles, and improve your muscular endurance, regularly vary the number of reps and sets you do.
“Optimal muscle growth occurs when you target both of the major muscle fiber types—I and II—and the best way achieve that is by lifting across the entire rep spectrum,” says Thieme. “Incorporate both heavy weight/low rep sets and light weight/high rep sets in your training program.”
4. Should I focus on one or two body parts a day, or do full-body workouts every time?
Both are effective strategies for packing on muscle. “The key is to work each body part or muscle group at least twice a week,” says Thieme, who suggests alternating between the two training strategies. “Do split training for two or three months, and then do total body training for two or three months.”
Your schedule is also a determining factor, Kelley notes. “If you can only work out two to three times per week, then a total body lifting program may be more efficient,” he says.
5. How many days per week should I lift weights?
How often you lift weights comes down to your goals and schedule as well, Kelley says. (Doe we sound like a broken record yet?)
“The ratio of exercise to recovery days that maximizes results and minimizes injury and overtraining risks depends largely on your current fitness level and the type, intensity, and duration of your workouts,” Thieme says. He recommends lifting a minimum of two days a week a maximum of six days.
6. Do I need to take rest days during a weightlifting program?
Yes! Giving yourself a day off from training is crucial to your weightlifting success. “Lifting days are where you [purposefully] damage muscle tissue,” Kelley says, while “rest/recovery days are when muscles repair and rebuild.” Both days are needed to become stronger.
If you don’t give yourself sufficient recovery time, you’ll sabotage your workout performance and hinder your results. “Training adaptations don’t happen during workouts, they happen between them, making recovery days just as important as training days,” says Thieme. “What people often forget is that, when it comes to exercise, more isn’t always better. You have to give your body the time it needs to respond to the training stimulus that each workout provides.”
How often you should take a recovery day depends on your fitness level, primary exercise type and intensity, age, and sleep habits, but a good rule of thumb is to take one or two rest/recovery days a week.
If you feel energized on your designated rest days, Kelley recommends active recovery activities, which facilitate blood flow to your muscles without overloading them. Yoga and light cardio (e.g., an easy jog, leisurely bike ride, or short hike) are good options. Also, don’t limit warm-up and cool-down activities to warm-ups and cool-downs. Perform dynamic stretching and foam rolling every day, regardless of whether or not you’re working out.
7. How do I avoid a muscle-building plateau?
There are numerous factors that contribute to muscle growth, but the key to achieving consistent gains is to regularly increase the challenge to your muscles, Kelley says. “By increasing the stress on a muscle through a principle called ‘progressive overload,’ you illicit changes in that muscle, including greater size, greater contraction force, and improved motor recruitment,” he explains.
Lifting progressively heavier weights isn’t the only way to do that. “Other ways to achieve progressive overload include decreasing the rest periods between sets, performing more complex exercise variations, and switching up the exercises you do,” says Thieme. “Even changing up your grip (e.g., from underhand to neutral) can increase the challenge to your muscles and trigger fresh growth.”
8. Can I do my weightlifting program and still do cardio and other workouts?
The short answer: yes. But you need to be strategic about it. “If your focus is weightlifting, then you should use cardio as a form of ‘active recovery,'” says Thieme.
If you do a heavy weightlifting session one day, and then go for an easy run the next, you can actually enhance your recovery (and results) from the weightlifting session by boosting blood flow—and the vital nutrient delivery and waste removal services it provides. “But a heavy weightlifting workout followed by a long, hard run or HIIT session the next day can do more harm than good,” says Thieme.
If you don’t allow your body sufficient time to recover between intense workouts, the only thing you’ll achieve is an increased risk of burnout and injury.
9. Will weightlifting make me bulky?
Lifting weights can cause men to become bulky if they focus solely and intensely on bodybuilding or pure strength training, Thieme explains, but this is rarely the case for women. Why? Genetics.
Men typically have a higher percentage of type II muscle fibers, which are bigger and have a higher growth potential than type I fibers. Plus, men produce more testosterone, which is critical for muscle building. “Women do not produce testosterone at high enough levels naturally to get bulky,” Kelley says, even if they’re lifting heavy amounts of weight. That said, a woman can still increase her muscle size through weightlifting if that’s her goal. “Studies also show that while most women can’t build as much muscle as most men, they can achieve similar increases in strength,” says Thieme.
10. How do I make sure I’m lifting with proper form?
Practicing correct weightlifting form is key to preventing injury and getting the results you want. The best way to guarantee good form? “Utilize a fitness professional [like a trainer] until you feel safe and confident in the staple lifts of your program,” Kelley says.
If you’re working out on Beachbody On Demand, pay attention to the trainers as they explain the correct starting stance, movement pattern, and key form points for each exercise, as well as which muscles to engage during the moves. Having a friend observe you can also help you keep your form on point.
11. How long should I follow a weightlifting program?
In general, Kelley recommends maintaining a specific weightlifting program for three to five weeks before you mix it up. “This gives the muscles time to adapt and grow in the current program; then, just as they acclimate, you tweak the program slightly to keep progressing,” he explains.
Perhaps more important than the timeline, however, is paying attention to the way your routine makes you feel. “If you haven’t increased the weight you’re lifting after a few weeks, or if you’ve noticed a significant drop in your motivation, it’s time to switch things up,” Thieme says.
Of course, if you follow a professionally designed program, like you’ll find on Beachbody On Demand, knowing when to switch things up isn’t even a concern. “Such variation is built into the program, eliminating the stress and guesswork for you,” says Thieme.
12. What should I eat before and after a workout to maximize my performance?
Before a weightlifting workout, focus on carbs, which will help top off your energy stores. The key is to choose something that you can digest before you start exercising. A piece of fruit is a good choice if you have 30 minutes or less until you work out. If your workout is still an hour out, our go-to recommendation is a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter.
Post-workout, the most important factor is protein, which can help facilitate muscle growth and speed recovery, Thieme says. Aim for 20 grams of fast-absorbing protein (like whey) within 30 minutes of exercising. A protein supplement such as Beachbody Performance Recover makes that easy.
13. How do I know if my weightlifting program is working?
To get the most accurate and objective measure of progress, Kelley suggests recording your workouts and tracking the numbers. “If you can increase the weight you lift by
13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program was originally posted at <a href="https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/weightlifting-program-questions" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/weightlifting-program-questions</a> by Hannah Rex
Sleep Deficiency Hinders Weight Loss, So Try Better Sleep Habits
Do you wake up feeling tired? Well, you’re not alone. One in every three Americans does not get the recommended sleep needed for optimal health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Sleep deficiency is known to cause weight gain, but also contributes to a whole list of more serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes, just to name a few.
Why Sleeping Is So Important for Weight Loss
Believe it or not, each and every day the most important thing that you do all day is sleep. Yes, you heard right! Sleep quality and duration are so important that they directly affect everything else you do in life.
“We are nothing but slaves to chemical processes,” says W. Christopher Winter, MD, in an article for Livestrong.
Nearly one third of our lives are spent asleep. During sleep, it is peak time for our bodies to repair muscle and release hormones that control natural processes, including appetite. All this is being done without any conscious energy being consumed.
Consequently, a deficiency in the sleep column affects everything; more specifically, it cuts weight loss and exercise performance by nearly 20%. This spirals into a decrease in hormone production, (which occurs when we sleep), and ultimately affects our daily eating pattern. Popular studies show that weight gain occurs because more calories are consumed on the following day, because of lack of hormone release. Therefore, a continued deficit during the night will only lead to months and years of unnecessary weight gain. On the flip side, if you aren’t already experiencing weight gain, you may just be unable to lose weight at all. So you don’t have weight gain, but no weight loss occurs, either.
Practice Better Sleep Habits
The best advice is to practice better sleep habits, getting optimal rest and avoiding insomnia.
Start with controlling your sleep environment by setting it at the appropriate temperature. Experts suggest trying between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Try eliminating all computers and television sets from your room as well, since any source of light tends to disrupt sleep patterns. Aim for consistency rather than trying to catch up on hours you might have missed the preceding day. Don’t be afraid to take short naps when feeling fatigued. These should be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes long to help improve alertness, performance, and mood. Lastly, never consume caffeine in the afternoon because it has the ability to stay in your system and interrupt the natural onset of sleep several hours later (See our blog on giving up caffeine).
The final verdict is in. A poor amount of sleep greatly hinders weight loss and sets you up for other health problems. So do yourself a favor: turn out the light, tuck yourself in, and get some much-needed Zzzs.
This blog was written by Cara Hartman, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
Sleep Deficiency Hinders Weight Loss, So Try Better Sleep Habits was originally posted at <a href="http://www.nifs.org/blog/sleep-deficiency-hinders-weight-loss-so-try-better-sleep-habits" target="_blank" rel="noopener">http://www.nifs.org/blog/sleep-deficiency-hinders-weight-loss-so-try-better-sleep-habits</a> by Cara Hartman