Food For Thought
BY: RANDI EISENSHTAT
Food! My favorite subject. One of the many benefits of being a group fitness instructor and teaching a handful of classes a week is that we burn a ton of calories. We are constantly hungry and always searching for the best things to eat. I've personally done a ton of research on when to eat, especially with all the exercising I do. As a fitness professional, we get asked regularly by our students and clients what they should be eating and when. There are hundreds of different diets out there these days and people are fasting and counting macros. (I bet half of you just googled what a macros is 😊).
There are 2 things I know for sure and you won't have to google search them to check the facts. The first is that consistency is key. If you are looking to change up your eating habits to achieve a certain result, you have to be patient. You have to allow your body to adjust to these changes before you decide if its working for you or not. This is coming from someone whose patience is not their strongest skill set. Nothing a little yoga and mediation can't cure 🙏. The second is, whatever dietary restrictions or rules you give yourself, they have to be reasonable and realistic for YOU. If you're constantly hungry, tired and miserable, IT'S NOT WORKING. Life is short. Suffering is optional.
Below are just a handful of facts (that you can google) as well as my personal take on eating as an athlete. Oh, by the way, if you exercise, you're an athlete. Something I also feel that is important to insert here is that I am not a certified nutritionist. Everything you are about to read is from research and personal experience. My goal for you as the reader is to get a brief understanding on the subject matter to hopefully excite you to want to learn more.
Should I eat before I workout?
This all depends on when you workout. If you're not working out first thing in the morning, you'll want to eat at least 30 minutes prior to your workout. You'll want to choose foods that are simple to digest and contain mainly carbs and some protein. This will help to prevent any stomach discomfort before you exercise. Most of my workouts are first thing in the morning. I've chugged protein shakes in the past before my workout because I was told I should NEVER workout on an empty stomach. These days, most of my morning workouts are on an empty stomach. Here is where you have to make the call on what feels best for you. If you are feeling weak and lightheaded during your workouts, you may want to fuel your body before to give you the boost you need to perform. Side note: coffee and energy drinks are not food.
How soon after my workout should I eat?
Ideally, you'll want to get some nutrients back into your body within 2 hours after you workout. However, to optimize your recovery, you should try to refuel within a 30-45 minute window. Similar to your pre-workout meal, you'll want to choose foods that are easy to digest to promote faster nutrient absorption. This is where those protein shakes come in handy. Here at RISE31, we've crafted some amazing post-workout smoothies. My personal favorite is the Cinnamon Oatmeal. It already comes with a scoop of plant-based protein powder as well as some of my other favorite ingredients to make it nutritious and delicious. If smoothies aren't your thing, we have some great post-workout treats like our Keto Cookies or Power Protein Balls. Bottom line: eat after your workout, the sooner the better, and make sure it's easy to digest.
Is fasting good for you?
My answer to this is yes. Why? Many studies have shown that fasting can have powerful effects on your body, your brain, and may even help you live longer. Fasting can change hormone levels and help repair cells. It took me a while to jump on the bandwagon of this popular trend, but once I did, I understood why so many other people were already doing it. I lost a few pounds, felt extremely energetic during all my workouts and throughout the day, slept better and my head never felt clearer. It was the craziest thing. Another result I achieved was alleviating any hunger pains or cravings. You would think after fasting for 16 hours that you would be ravenous, but I never was. I also lost all those cravings for high starchy-carbs and sugary foods and my appetite shrunk. My portions were smaller and my eyes were actually bigger than my stomach. My hours of when I eat and when I fast are flexible and I make it work for me and my life. There are tons of great articles on the web that will dive deeper into this subject and give you a better understanding to the benefits of fasting. If you are curious, dig in. It won't hurt. I can promise you that.
How much water should I be drinking?
A lot and you're probably not drinking enough. Same with food, this is all dependent on the person and their needs, but most people are constantly dehydrated. I spoke about this in a previous blog, but if the first thing you digest in the morning is coffee and the last thing is a glass of wine, I can assure you that your body is thirsty. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water and we are constantly losing water between bathroom breaks and sweating. The daily recommended amount of water by most health authorities is 8-8 ounce glasses of water or half a gallon which is equivalent to about 2 liters. Since we are all different from gender to height to weight, you may also want to consider consuming half your body weight in ounces each day since your body mass is largely made up of water. This is for the average human being that doesn't take a 45 minute cycle class or live in our humid, hot temperatures in South Florida. You can be mildly dehydrated constantly in our state and not even know it. Low energy levels, mood changes and headaches are simple signs of dehydration. Besides keeping yourself hydrated for your workouts, there are many benefits to drinking water. Weight loss, increased metabolism, glowing skin and reduced chances of health risks such as kidney stones and constipation to name a few. Something to also consider is that most foods contain water and will provide you not only with the nutrients you needs but the hydration as well. Fruits and vegetables contain a significant amount of water as well as meat, fish and eggs. In relation to your workouts here at RISE31, you'll want to make sure you're properly hydrated before your class. What you drink during your workout is usually satisfying thirst and aiding in the cooling off process. Rehydration is just as important, so make sure you're filling up in between workouts. All in all, listen to your body. It is always trying to tell you something. For example, when you're eyes get heavy, you're tired. Go to sleep. When you're thirsty, drink. When you're not thirsty anymore, stop. If you exercise and are in the heat, you need to drink enough to compensate for the lost fluids. That is all.
Our bodies and minds are incredible and science keeps coming up with ways to keep us healthy and living longer. Most answers to your questions are probably right there in front of you. Keep it simple. Don't complicate things. Lastly, if it feels good, do it.