Food makes fun fuel

by Khushboo on December 23, 2010

Cereal, to me, is the equivalent of crack. OK that might be a slight exaggeration but I actually love the stuff. There’s something about eating it which is so satisfying. Topping it with some fruit, milk/yogurt, and nuts makes it a delicious, filling, and balanced breakfast option: wholegrain carbs, protein, healthy fats, fruit, dairy…and the day has only begun. I don’t stop at breakfast though: I often snack on a small bowl of cereal before I sleep. Yes, that’s right: a nice bowl of carbs after 7pm- Boo-yah! 😀

As you probably know by now, I work out first thing in the morning. I literally spring out (ok ok drag my ass out 😳) of bed and within 15 minutes, I’m on my way. While it would be ideal to eat a small snack before working out, the only thing I can just about stomach at 6:45 a.m. is water. If I didn’t eat dinner/snack right before bed, I would probably reconsider that. I can’t tell you how important it is to NOT exercise on an empty stomach. In theory it might make sense, but your body is not going to magically burn fat when running on empty. To lose fat, muscle must be given enough quality fuel without being overfueled.

Glycogen is basically a fancy way of referring to carbs stored in the muscles and liver for later use. It’s the body’s primary source of energy, and enters the bloodstream in the form of glucose as & when needed. Although your body does burn some stored fat for energy when you exercise, glycogen is the main source and is reason #104 to eat carbs. Other than a huge craving for stodge, working out on a low-carb diet/on empty comes with a price: you’ll get tired sooner than you hoped, which ultimately means:

  • A lowered overall calorie burn 
  • The inability to maintain adequate muscle tone due to less exercise/movement

More than just exhaustion, you (‘you’ as in general ‘you’) also run the risk of catabolism: a breakdown of protein for energy in the form of muscle. A loss in muscle mass plays havoc to your metabolism and slows it down. Less muscle also gives your skin a saggy appearance, which isn’t a good look on anyone 🙄 .

Whereas eating a 3-course meal or a bucket full of pasta before your workout isn’t advisable, a small snack within an hour or 2 can works wonders. And don’t fuel fool yourself with the low-carb frenzy. Selecting slow-release, wholegrain carbs will provide your body with the extra oomph to maximize your workout. Good pre-workout snacks include:

  • A small bowl of cereal, or oatmeal, with milk 
  • Wholegrain toast topped with peanut butter or cheese
  • 1/2 cup of nuts and dried fruit
  • A piece of fruit
  • Yogurt with berries
  • A granola/cereal bar (just double-check on the ingredient list)

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