Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sporty Sunday: Pre-Workout Snacks

I never exercise on an empty stomach. Exercising hungry might burn a little more fat per minute, but I can go for many more minutes and work at a higher intensity if I’ve eaten something. I eat before I run. I eat before I strength train. I even eat before I swim.

When choosing a pre-workout snack, I look for sugar, fiber, protein, and a little fat. The sugar gives me quick energy. The fiber slows down digestion. And the protein and fat give me slow-burning energy. The proportions are important. Too much sugar and you’ll crash halfway through. Too much fiber, protein or fat can result in digestive discomfort. (Never, ever eat tuna salad before swimming.)

My favorite pre-workout snacks:

Dried fruit and nuts. Five dates or five apricots and 1/2 ounce nuts. Approx 171 calories, 12 grams sugar, 3 grams fiber, 8 grams fat, 4 grams protein. (Actual values will depend on your choice of fruit, size of fruit pieces, and choice of nuts.)

Kashi TLC bars. Right now, I’m into the Dark Mocha Almond Chewy Granola Bars. Approx 130 calories, 6 grams sugar, 3 grams fiber, 3.5 grams fat, 6 grams protein. I keep a box of these in my swim locker.

Banana and peanut butter. I try to restrain myself to only a tablespoon of pb…but it’s so good! Approx 200 calories, 16 grams sugar, 4 grams fiber, 8 grams fat, 5 grams protein.

Apple and string cheese. This is no good if you’re lactose intolerant, but I don’t have any trouble digesting milk products quickly. Approx 152 calories, 14 grams sugar, 3 grams fiber, 6 grams fat, 6 grams protein. (Actual values will depend on the size of your apple and choice of string cheese product.)

Besides tuna salad, I also do NOT recommend working out after eating a donut or Mexican food. Surprisingly, pizza (one meat-free slice) is ok. Chocolate eggs (the Easter kind, not actual eggs + chocolate) seem like a good idea, but I crash and burn 30 minutes later (too much sugar and no fiber!)

Besides the food choice, timing is also important. I consume my snack 15 to 30 minutes before beginning my exercise session. Most of my snacks are stable at room temperature, so I can store or travel with them easily. I can often be seen nibbling on my fruit and nuts, as I cross UC's campus, on the way to swim practice.

I pair my snacks with plenty of water.

Do you eat before you exercise? What are your favorite pre-workout snacks?

Sporty Sunday is a recurring feature in which I share my fitness routine and offer and solicit advice. While this content might seem a little out of place in an outfit diary, a healthy, strong body is the foundation of my wardrobe. I hope to inspire my readers to be fit as well as stylish!


Megan G said...

This is some good advice. I'm trying to work in more exercise into my daily life but since it's inconsistent, I never really consider eating.

You did list many of my favorite daily snacks. I always keep trail mixes (fruit/nut mix) on hand. My mom swears by yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and a serving size of bolthouse farm fruit juices as breakfast. She lost a ton of weight, and says it keeps her full until lunch time.

Jude said...

I never knew if you are supposed to eat before or after exercising; thanks for the advice.

"(Never, ever eat tuna salad before swimming.)" I get the feeling this advice comes from personal experience.

maryeb said...

PB on a banana is one of my favorites, too.
I also really like Kind bars. They are a bit pricey so I usually wait for a sale.

Laura said...

I have found that wheat toast, Peanut Butter and 1/2 a banana works well for me.

Catherine said...

I second having fiber and protein with your carbs to keep you going. You already listed my favorites, except trail mix which Meghan mentioned. I found out the hard way to bring snacks when I go kayaking since I need more calories and more carbs than normal and we're usually out several hours paddling.

I think it's great you're talking about exercise. You don't have the self-righteous attitude I see sometimes. I'm glad to see you like swimming since I have to do that and other low-impact things. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I agree - it is so important to have something to eat prior to working out. It's not a good feeling when I leave for a run and realize I didn't eat enough beforehand! My personal favorites for pre-workout snacks are yogurt, nuts (usually plain almonds or walnuts), and string cheese.

Carolrawinia said...

I train in the afternoon so I drink coconut water and eat an apple before I take a run. Before I swim I have a piece of gluten free toast with some butter because I can swim after it without feeling ill.

annabananna said...

I found out the hard way that I need to eat before I run, so always have a few spoonfuls of yoghurt if I run in the morning, or a glass of milk and some peanut butter (love it!) if I haven't eaten for a while in the evening. And lots of water...
Love your exercise posts!

EvaNadine said...

im getting back into running now that its getting warm outside. (im a VERY beginner runner).
how long before running would you say i should cut off the water drinking? i have a tendency to not drink enough water (in general, but especially not enough for working out) so i suddenly remember + try to chug a bottle a few hours beforehand, but i try not to sip TOO much within that last hour. any idea how long it takes to absorb into your body + make a difference?

Kasmira said...

EvaNadine - I sip water up until 15 minutes or so before I work out. On long runs, I drink while I run. You can buy water bottles in special cases that are easy to hold while running. (And I think of it as an arm workout, too!) I usually don't need to use the restroom unless I'm out for more than 2.5 hours.

When I was in the Marines, we were encouraged to hydrate for stressful events during the 2 - 3 days leading up to the run or march. We were told that chugging water the day of the event wouldn't hydrate us. I'm not sure if that's true...but I do try to stay generally hydrated and just drink a normal amount before working out.

"Normal" for me, is quite a bit of water, though! I drink at least 64 oz a day, sometimes 96, if I fill my bottle a third time. My "bottle" is a giant, 32-oz mug from Great American Cookies. I keep it on my desk at work and drink from it all day. For me, the key is to have the water available and for it to be in a container with a straw. I'll always drink more of a liquid if there is a straw.

Magatha-May said...

I love your sporty Sunday series - keep the tips coming please

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for a mug like yours for my water. I have a 32oz that doesn't have the nice travel size bottom so I hate taking it in the car but it helps me get my water in at home for sure. When did you get yours? If they still have them I am going to head to the mall and try to get one!

Kasmira said...

Anon, my mug is a few years old. You might also try Speedway or a convenience store. Sometimes they sell mugs like this and offer a discount when you refill at their soda fountain.