Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pre-Workout Snack Guidelines

Food preferences for pre-workout (or pre-race/performance) snacks will vary depending on the individual, type of exercise and level of intensity. For example, endurance athletes can often eat more during a long slow cycle when their heart rate is lower, than while running or training at a higher heart rate.

Experiment with the following guidelines to help determine an appropriate snack for you. Choose a snack that:
  • Contains a sufficient amount of fluid to maintain hydration.
  • Is low in fat and fiber to facilitate gastric emptying and minimize GI distress.
  • Is high in carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice, pasta, and cereals to maintain blood glucose levels, and maximize carbohydrate stores.
  • Contains some protein for staying power throughout your workout.
  • Is low in simple sugars such as candy. They can send your blood sugar level shooting down, leading to a severe drop in energy.
The more time you allow between eating and exercise, the larger the quantity of food you will be able to eat. Allow more digestion time before intense exercise than before low-level activity. Your muscles require more blood during intense exercise, and therefore less blood will be available to your stomach to help with digestion. If you have a finicky stomach, try a liquid snack prior to your workout.

Liquid snacks such as smoothies (Isagenix® Isalean shake) or sports drinks (Isagenix® Want More Energy) tend to leave the stomach faster than solid foods do and will be easier to digest. Choosing the appropriate snacks will be dependent on the individual. Some people have a tough time digesting anything solid prior to a workout while and others can munch on an energy bar during intense activity such as running.

Pre-Workout Snack Ideas: (100-200 calories)

Here are some snacks that pack a punch to keep you energized throughout your workout:
  • A small bowl of cereal with a banana
  • 3/4 cup of yogurt with 1/2 cup berries
  • 1 bagel with non-hydrogenated peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup trail mix
  • An English muffin with nut butter and honey
  • A smoothie made with milk or juice, fresh or frozen and wheat germ or flax meal
  • 3-4 fig cookies or a low fat granola bar 
Remember the golden rule of eating familiar foods before a workout, race or competition. This would never be the time to try something new. Trial and error during training will help you find the fuel that will work best for you.

Super-Hydrate Your System

Drinking plenty of water is essential to the success of this program. Drinking the recommended amount of water can seem like a challenge at first. Stick with it. Carry a large sports bottle or similar item with you throughout the day. After several weeks, you will find that you actually thirst for more water, and the amounts recommended are easily reached.

Super hydration aids the release of fat in a number of ways:

First, the kidneys are unable to function without adequate water. When they fail to work to capacity some of their load is dumped onto the liver.

This diverts the liver from its function, which is metabolized stored fat into usable energy. Because it’s performing the chores of water-depleted kidneys, the liver metabolizes less fat.

Second. Overeating can be averted through water intake, as water can keep the stomach feeling full and satisfied between meals.

Third, ice-cold water requires calories to warm it to core body temperatures. In fact, 1 gallon of ice cold water generates 123 calories of heat energy.

You’ll be drinking from 1 to 1 5/8gallons of water each day on the following super-hydration schedule:

Week 1-- drink 4, 32-oz. bottles of ice-cold water per day.

Week 2-- drink 4.5, 32-oz. bottles of ice-cold water per day.

Week 3-- drink 5, 32-oz. bottles of ice-cold water per day.

Week 4-- drink 5.5, 32-oz. bottles of ice-cold water per day.

Week 5-- drink 6, 32-oz. bottles of ice-cold water per day.

Week 6-- drink 6.5, 32-oz. bottles of ice-cold water per day.

Plan on making more than a dozen trips to the restroom, especially during the first week of the program. Remember, your body is an adaptive system and it will soon accommodate the increased water consumption.

Although it is doubtful that you could ever drink too much water, a few ailments can be negatively affected by large amounts of fluid. For example, anyone with a kidney disorder or anyone who takes diuretics, should consult a physician or health care professional before going on this recommended water-drinking schedule. If you have any doubts about the recommendations, play it safe and check with your physician or health care professional. At all costs, attempt to drink natural spring water and avoid chlorine and fluoride.

Maximize Your Fitness Gains with Pre Workout and Post Workout Nutrition


When implemented properly and consistently, strategic pre-workout and post-workout supplementation can greatly increase the effectiveness of your training. Without optimum nutritional strategies, the body's response to training can only be considered a compromise at best. From this perspective, training and diet (nutritional support) have to be considered as one in the same; the food and supplements that you take, and the work that you faithfully perform at RHF, are both part of your training.  Your biology is your biography as I say time and time again.

Why it is needed

Exercise causes acute changes in the metabolic environment of muscle tissue. First, there is a significant increase in blood flow to working muscles. There is also a sharp increase in catecholamines (hormones like noradrenalin & adrenalin). These changes favor catabolism (breakdown) during exercise and anabolism (build up) immediately after exercise. Because these changes are acute, some lasting only a few hours, the pre and post exercise meals are critical to optimizing the anabolic effect of exercise.

Pre-Workout Nutrition: Starting the Metabolic Fire

Having a pre-workout meal plan is smart, healthy, and beneficial. It provides you with energy, power, and strength to push your workouts to the max and may speed recovery. But did you know that the time frame in which you consume your meals is just about as important as the workout itself? For best results, you need to consume your meals within 2 hours before you begin your workouts, so your body has adequate amount of energy to perform.

A small dose of protein (5-10 g), a small dose of carbohydrates (10-20 g) and an electrolyte mix (containing B vitamins and minerals) will do the trick. It is never a one size fits all approach. You may need to play around with the ratios and timing to acclimate to your body’s digestion capacities. Calories should range from 75-200.

Post Workout Recovery Formula: The 45 Minute Window

During exercise muscles use metabolic fuels at an accelerated rate. In order for physical work to be continuous, the body mobilizes stored fuels for metabolic use (making fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids available for oxidation). This is a catabolic (breakdown) process and cannot occur simultaneous to anabolic (buildup) processes (such as glycogen formation and protein synthesis). In order for the body to recover from exercise, the catabolic environment must be quickly changed to an anabolic environment. The food that you eat after training affects the hormonal processes in your body in order for this to take place. With the rapid introduction of carbohydrate, protein, and fat into the system post exercise, the body is able to begin reparations on damaged tissue and replenish fuel reserves.  Your workout is over after you have your post-workout recovery formula.

A carbohydrate/protein of 3:1 or as high as 5:1 will do the trick. Fat intake should be minimal (essential fats).Calorie intake should range from 150-350. The window diminishes greatly after 45 minutes. So, get your post workout recovery in right away for best results.


Pre- and post-exercise nutrition is critical if one wants to maximize the anabolic effects of exercise.

The pre-exercise meal should be high in a quickly digestible protein (whey). This will ensure high delivery of amino acids to the muscle tissue. Carbohydrates can also be taken to minimize glycogen loss and suppress catabolic hormones. Fat should be avoided pre-exercise unless the exercise is for endurance. The most convenient way to get nutrition into the body is through food-form supplements. Fruit also works great so eat up!

The post exercise meal should consist of carbohydrate, protein and perhaps a small amount of essential fats, in a form that is easily and quickly digestible. There are many meal replacement products that fit the bill. Isagenix® is the product of choice at Rock Hard Fitness. Forget the worry about sugar content because right after a workout, fat storage is a non-issue.* A liquid meal is the most practical method of post-exercise feeding although you may eat solid food. The ratio of macronutrients depends somewhat on the nature of the training session. An emphasis on high glycemic carbs, complete readily digestible proteins such as whey, egg, or high quality casein, and essential fats such as fish or flax oil will meet the criteria for an effective post exercise meal.


We have to mention fluid replacement when talking nutrition. Hydration is extremely important on the cellular level. Muscle growth is inhibited by dehydration. The rate at which you become dehydrated from training depends on how much you sweat. Some people sweat a lot when training and others sweat noticeably less.

A good rule of thumb is:

To drink half your ideal body weight in ounces as a minimum and up to your ideal body weight in ounces as a maximum. Exp. your ideal weight is 150 pounds, your minimum is 75oz. and your max is 150oz. Another way to assess hydration goals: 1 ml for every calorie that you need. So, if you eat 3,500 calories a day, try to drink 3 1/2 liters of water. If you exercise in hot or humid climates add 16oz. of water for every pound you lose while exercising.

*There is some evidence to suggest that sugar may disrupt the anabolic effects of exercise and harm your training gains but more evidence is needed to support this theory.