Happy Sunday. It’s been another chaotic weekend in my place and somehow I find myself alone in the house at 6pm Sunday night (Vanessa is still out managing junior sport commitments) wondering exactly where the last 48 hours has gone. Well, 47 hours – I left the gym around 7pm on Friday night!
I did manage to get a bit of work done over the weekend though – slowly pushing ahead with the preparation work for the Summer Slam Challenge due to kick off in October. I am in that preparation stage where I have a big list of ‘stuff’ with pretty much nothing ticked off (I am sure you all know the feeling) and it all feels a bit overwhelming right now. I keep reminding myself that I have always finished the packs in time for previous challenges so as long as I just keep putting one foot in front of the other I WILL make it to the end…that is cold comfort though when you have a pile of ideas accumulated since the last challenge (which was way back in FEBRUARY – 28-Days Later) and no idea how to make sense of them or how to integrate them into the challenge…as an old IT colleague liked to say though – “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” – and it is just a matter of working through it.
Thinking about the challenge has seen me thinking (a lot) about food and recipes and particularly about what to eat before and after training. I guess the thing that has bugged me the most about our past challenges is finding ways for participants to HOLD their muscle whilst still dropping fat. What happens is this though – everyone ups their training and RESTRICTS their food. And some of them already weren’t eating enough! It happens to me as well – I use what would count as ‘cheat’ foods from the perspective of the challenge (like a ham and cheese toastie, or a peanut butter + honey sandwich) as quick ‘fill-up’ foods during a heavy training week. Are these foods ideal? Well, probably not, but when I replace them with ‘fresh air’ for a month, I find I lose muscle and – in an odd twist of fate – that ultimately means that despite also losing body fat, my body fat % actually goes UP (‘cos my muscle drops the PERCENTAGE of fat in my body – if not the mass of fat – increases). Sad times. So, here goes with my ‘quick hit what to eat before and after training’ blog.
First off, if you CAN stomach food before a session, well, that’s best. Somewhere between 30mins and 2hours before your workout is usually about the ‘right’ time to eat – but you have to do your own timings here. Some people can eat 15-mins before a session and feel fine – others feel like throwing up if they eat 2 ½ hours before…do a bit of testing and try it out. Timing stuff aside…what should you eat?
Well, first off, DRINK WATER. Just coming into the session, sip, sip, sip away. You don’t need to target a certain amount, but if you are training before work start the day with 250mls or so then just sip on your water bottle until you start. If you are training later in the day and are in the ‘water bottle’ habit, well, you should be fine but just try to get in the habit of having your water bottle in the car with you and sip on it as you drive to the gym. No need to overdo it, but water is priority #1.
Next, your pre-workout snack should be carb based. Something like a small jar of overnight oats, a banana together with some almond butter, a quick ‘shake’ with some berries or a banana, a couple of slices of dried fruit together with a protein shake, a small tub of Greek yoghurt with some berries and half a scoop of protein powder, maybe half an apple and a handful (meaning 6!) almonds…you get the idea, don’t eat too much – just ‘something’ to give you enough fuel so that you feel energised throughout your session!
Now, I don’t know about you guys but I don’t have TOO much trouble with the pre-workout stuff…I just eat my usual food and generally feel pretty good when it comes time to train. Well, I actually feel pretty terrible during the session but that is mostly because of my poor attitude and the recent emphasis on long duration cardio efforts in our sessions! Post workout though? I’m not too good at this and am pretty sure my ill-discipline in this area is what causes me to lose muscle during the challenges!
First stop post workout is the same as the first step pre-workout. Drink some water. If you are a BCAA person I guess this is the time to take them to help replenish your system after the stress of exercise. The S+C coaches at footy get the players to weigh-in before each session then weigh-out again at the end…they are then instructed to DRINK the difference in their weight in water within 60 minutes. Lost 1kg of weight? Drink 1lt water. You get the idea.
Second stop is to eat something “SOON” after training. How soon? Well, ideally within 30-60 minutes. What do you eat? Some Low-GI carbs (like quinoa, brown rice, brown bread make sense to most people, to people like me following a different path think sweet potato, brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli and zucchini) together with some protein. For me – if I am organised a sweet potato cup (with an egg and some spinach) is a great plan. An omelette is also amazing…but for people looking for something a bit simpler, some rye bread together with some peanut butter and half a banana will no doubt do the job. Or maybe a protein shake with half a banana and a tablespoon of almond butter? It is a SNACK so no need to go overboard…what we are trying to do here is get something in that is quick and easy to keep our energy up and prevent our body using our hard earned MUSCLE as fuel.
That’s it. Stay tuned for details of SUMMER SLAM! And I’ll see you all in the gym!
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