Pre-Workout Nutrition

images-1Your nutrition choices can either support your hard-work in the gym or they can hinder your chances of reaching your goals. Plenty of people do not like to eat anything before their workouts. This is a HUGE mistake. The body needs energy in order to get optimal results.

We need to wake up our metabolism up in order to burn fat. With nothing in your stomach, your body will burn muscle instead of fat. To rev your metabolism up, you should eat (at least a little bit) before you work out.

It is also good to eat within a 1 hour period after your workout. During this post-workout period your metabolism is working at peak levels. You want to make sure that the body is able to burn fat during this time instead of muscle.

Each individual needs a different ratio of protein to carbohydrates to fats in their diet. For this reason, I could not tell you what the “perfect” pre-workout snack for you. (That is unless you come in for a nutritional analysis*). Even if you don’t know the “perfect” ratios for your body, it is best to at least combine a carbohydrate, protein and a fat into your pre-workout snack.

Here are a few good options that you can choose from. It is important to notice how you feel after you eat. You might want to eat 30 minutes before your workout so that you have time to digest your food. You may want to alternate between these options and figure out which option is best for you.

1. 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp flax seeds and 5-6 chopped almonds

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2. 1/2 a Rise protein bar or 1/2 a Jay Rob protein bar.

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3. An apple with peanut butter and a hard-boiled egg

4. Strawberry and Kale Smoothie OR Strawberry Banana Smoothie:

1/2 banana, 2-3 strawberries, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 scoop protein powder (I like vanilla vega) and 2 ice cubes

If you can’t get some protein in then at least combine a quality carbohydrate and a healthy fat.

What do you usually eat before you workout? Please share!

*E-mail me at nourishedbalance@gmail.com to set up an initial consultation

So Many Protein Bars To Choose From!

Okay, fine, I’ll help you out a little bit. It is a huge challenge to choose a good protein bar because there are way too many choices. The truth is that most protein bars have tons of processed ingredients that aren’t good for our health. The biggest problem that I have with protein bars is quality and quantity of sugar used to sweeten them. There are also usually way too many ingredients smooshed together in 1 bar.

While my preference is to eat real “whole foods,” I do understand that there are times where we have to make some exceptions. Protein bars and protein powder are to be used as a supplemental snack/meal in addition to an already existing whole foods diet.  They are not meant to be a replacement for a whole foods diet.

I just found my new favorite pre-workout bar and I am more than happy to share the secret. RISE protein bars! There are several flavors, however don’t be fooled– only 2 of the flavors are protein bars, the rest are “energy bars,” which contain much higher sugar levels and barely any protein. The two flavors that are on the ‘Nourished-Balance’ approved-list are:

  • Crunchy Carob Chip
  • Honey Almond

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These tasty little bars have 17grams of protein. Both of these bars are gluten free as well. There are 13 grams of sugar in each of the bars, which is considered pretty high for a snack. In nutrition there is always a better & best option. These bars would be considered a “better” option because they use higher quality sugars than most of the other bars on the market.

The ingredient list for Crunchy Carob Chip includes: almonds, organic agave, whey protein isolate, carob powder and crisp rice.

The ingredient list for the Honey Almond Bar is: honey, almonds, whey protein isolate

The bars are available on Amazon or at Whole Foods (and if you buy the whole box you get 10% off). My local health food store, Jimbo’s…. Naturally, also carries these yummy snacks.

If you still don’t like either of these options, you can try my homemade protein bar recipe. (coming soon!)

Carbohydrates 101

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If your goals are weight loss, controlling diabetes or managing blood sugar for hypertension, hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, be sure to place emphasis on quality carbohydrates:

-natural (vs. processed)
-high-fiber
-unrefined
– and unprocessed

Through the Atkins diet and several other nutrition trends, we have become afraid of carbohydrates. Often times we believe that carbohydrates are THE answer to weight loss and managing blood sugar. The problem is that when you cut them out completely the body craves more sugar for energy, leading us right back to the carbohydrates we have been desperately trying to avoid. Clearly, cutting out all carbohydrates or severely limiting carbohydrate intake is NOT “the” answer.

Think of carbohydrates as your fuel. They provide the body with energy. Rather than cutting out them out completely (which has proven to be extremely harmful to health), choose better quality carbohydrates and moderate your portion size. Another key nutrition concept-that will help regulate the affect of carbohydrates on the body- is to consume fiber, fats and protein with carbohydrates as opposed to eating the carbohydrate on its own.

Here are some of my favorite “healthy carbs”:

  • apples
  • Berries
  • cherries (in season now!)
  • grapefruit (also in season now!)
  • beets
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • adzuki beans

When it comes to your health, these choices far surpass the options for the processed white sugar and white flour products such as pizza and pasta.

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Notice: All the Same Color = Low Nutrients

The amount you consume depends on your body type, metabolism and fitness level however, about 1/2 cup of the healthy carbohydrate choices listed above, is a good average serving size.

Remember that you do not —and actually should not– completely eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Make good choices, work on moderate portion sizes and create a balanced diet.

 

Other articles you may be interested in:

Spring Veggie Wrap

This Spring Veggie Wrap makes for a great light snack! You also have the option to load it up with additional veggies, tofu, or animal protein to make it a more substantial meal option.

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Nutrition Suggestion: Consume at least 1 salad, smoothie, or veggie wrap each day

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients
1 Tortilla*
1 Tablespoon of Pesto (Recipe: Kale & Almond Pesto)
4-5 leaves arugula or spinach
Broccoli sprouts
Cucumbers, thinly sliced
Radishes, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Optional: organic feta or goat cheese

* Whole wheat, organic corn, or gluten-free tortillas are widely available alternative to white flour. I like the Rudi’s Brand! If you’re looking for a lighter meal or snack, you can also try wrapping your ingredients in collard greens.

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Toasty & Nutty Snack-Bars

Nutrition fact- Always include some protein and fats when eating carbohydrates! This method helps to regulate blood sugar and will keep you full for longer.

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Sweet, salty, nutty, tasty… Couldn’t be more delicious! These bars also happen to be gluten-free, egg-free and dairy free. Oh Joy!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
Dry

  • 1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Wet
  • 1/4 cup organic tea seed oil or organic grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additions
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  2. Mix almond flour, baking soda, sea salt and oats together in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients together
  5. Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins to the mixture. Mix until well incorporated
  6. Oil an 8×8 inch baking dish with tea seed oil. Bake form 20 minutes. Let cool.
Makes 6-8 bars

Spring Cleaning- Pantry Makeover Guidelines

Spring is a perfect time to clean out the “junk” in your pantry. Healthy eating starts with healthy ingredients. The choice to reach for sugary snacks happens in the grocery store, not in the kitchen. Follow these guidelines, or contact a nutritionist to get the support you need!

From this:

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To this:

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Nourished Balance Healthy Pantry Guidelines

  • Move from processed food to unprocessed foods

White flour ——–> Whole wheat flour

White sugar, cane juice, high fructose corn syrup——-> Palm sugar, honey, maple syrup, dates, molasses

  • Get rid of artificial food additives & artificial food coloring

Yellow 5, citrus red 2, red 3, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1, blue 2, green 3, MSG (also known as autolyzed yeast), sodium benzoate etc.

“food dyes—used in everything from M&Ms to Manischewitz Matzo Balls to Kraft salad dressings—pose risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies, and should be banned.”

  • Start adding more fresh foods into your diet instead of all packaged snacks

If you shop in a conventional supermarket, it is almost impossible to avoid harmful ingredients. Unfortunately we need to be “food detectives” to make sure that we are not consuming substances that are proven to cause major diseases, learning disorders and chronic fatigue.

Yogurt Parfait a Perfect Snack

Looking for a new healthy snack? This may just turn out to be your new energy booster.

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The most important part about choosing a snack is to make sure that it is going to provide you with energy. Snacks should be made up of whole foods rather than packaged foods. A yogurt parfait is a great grab-and-go snack. It is balanced and low in sugar. Even better, this one is safe for people with gluten sensitivities. Your kids will love this snack!

Let’s talk ingredients. Yogurt can be very deceiving. There are so many options to choose from yet most of them are loaded with artificial sugars. When you look at the nutrition labels most yogurts have 12-23 grams of sugar in 1 serving alone. You can do better than that! Go ahead and buy a plain greek yogurt which has much less sugar. It is also much higher in protein than regular yogurt. Don’t be scared of the fat content. Go for full fat or 2% fat. If you believed that eating fat will make you fat, it would be in your best interest to do a little research. In fact, a low-fat diet can actually make you gain weight! 

If dairy bothers your stomach, try “goat-milk” yogurt instead. It may be easier to digest.

Rather than buying yogurt with fruit already mixed in it, buy a plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit. Berries are very low on the glycemic index. They are a great choice for a natural sweetener.

Directions

  1. Place 1/2 cup of greek yogurt into a mason jar or container.
  2. Add a handful of nuts or homemade granola for some crunch.
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed for some fiber.
  4. You have just made yourself a delicious and nutrient dense snack in less than 5 minutes.

Now it is ready to grab-and-go.