Pop quiz! Which one of the following would you guess I have NOT seen at the gym over the years:
- A brawl worthy of a cage match on ESPN
- A woman falling off the treadmill and breaking her wrist, and continuing to run because she was so embarrassed
- Someone fainting and falling off a bench
- A person working out without looking at their phone every five seconds
Give up? You got it, it’s #4.
I have seen an outright fistfight in the weight room as well as several people falling off treadmills (watch your step, people!) and otherwise doing less-than-genius things.
But the last time I saw anyone working out without a phone or Bluetooth device was before the invention of cell phones.
So it’s been a while.
For the sake of today’s conversation, however, I’d like to focus on #3: fainting.
When this happens in a gym it’s a pretty big deal. Since no one knows why this person keeled over, management calls 911, paramedics rush in and cart the person out on a gurney. It’s almost enough to make a person look up from their phone.
Let’s face it, few things are as demotivating to your workout as seeing an ambulance in front of a gym in which you were about to visit.
I’ve seen several people — both men and women — faint during their workout.
On a couple of those occasions I’ve personally known the “fainter” and later asked them what happened.
Every time it was the same answer:
a new, cute aerobics instructor working out on an empty stomach. This led to low blood sugar and, hence, the face plant.
Unless your workout consists of stretching for five minutes and showering, you’ll need a bit of fuel. Yes, even if weight loss is your goal.
Here’s the thing: You can’t “give it your all” (a.k.a. exercise hard enough to burn max calories) without fuel in your tank. Just be sure to include the pre-workout calories in your food journal. (You keep one, right?)
And if you eat something after your workout you “spare” your muscle. In other words, you’ll burn off those calories and save your hard-earned muscle.
Why is this a thing? Aside from helping you maintain tone and a host of other benefits, which I cover at length in my webinar, How to Firm Up After 50, muscle burns calories at rest and cranks up your metabolism. So you need it.
But yes, consider the length of time you’re working out and the intensity. Going out for a 30-minute walk isn’t a reason to down an entire smoothie beforehand, but a small portion may be perfect to energize you so you can crank up your pace.
Save the rest for later. Here are a few super simple nutritionally balanced food ideas for both before and after your workout.
Before your workout
Eat a mini-meal 30 to 60 minutes prior to your workout so you have enough energy to make it through that 5:30 aerobics class. Nothing fancy, just a clean combo of healthy carbs and a protein like these:
- Apple with peanut/almond butter
- Celery with almond butter
- Low-fat yogurt
- A piece of whole-grain toast with ½ banana sliced, and a dab of peanut butter
- Half a meal-replacement bar
- A smoothie
- Oatmeal and fresh fruit
If you’re performing a mix of cardio and weights and/or exercising for more than an hour, use a one to three hour window prior to your workout but include a slightly more substantial meal with a higher percentage of carbs such as:
- Yogurt with granola/trail mix
- Fruit or a sports drink or juice diluted down
- Half a sports bar with carbs
After your workout
The key to what and how much to eat lies in when you plan to eat your next meal. If you’re eating within 30 minutes after your workout, you’re fine. But if your next meal is an hour or so away, you’ll want to eat something beforehand.
Think carbs plus some protein, although carbs remain the only energy source for replenishing glycogen (stored blood sugar) stores. Smoothies work great because they also provide additional hydration.
Within 15 to 45 minutes after your workout, choose:
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- A protein shake whirled with fruit
- Salmon and sweet potato
- Whole wheat sandwich with tuna and spinach
- Veggie omelet with avocado
- Grilled chicken and mixed veggies
What’s YOUR favorite pre- or post-workout mini-meal or snack? Let me know in the comments section below! I’d love to hear from you.
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P. S. Want the full scoop on keeping firm after 50? Check out my new, FREE, on-demand webinar. Click HERE for more details and to get started.
Your Ageless Body Coach,