A snack helps you push through a tough workout, but eat the wrong thing and you may have to check out of the gym early. Everyone is different, so determining the best foods and the best time to eat them is a learning process. These tips will help you pick the right snack whether you exercise morning, noon, or night.
Before Your Workout
The Mayo Clinic suggests that large meals be eaten at least 3 to 4 hours before a workout, small meals 2 to 3 hours before, and small snacks about 1 hour before. Choose foods that are balanced in carbohydrate and protein, and low in fat and fiber. Each person tolerates fat and fiber differently so experiment with food options to find what works best for you.
½ of an English muffin topped with 2 scrambled egg whites. (94 calories)
½ cup of cherry tomatoes with a ½ cup of low fat cottage cheese. (112 calories)
1/4 cup of oatmeal prepared with water and mashed with a ½ of a banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. (135 calories)
20 mini pretzels with 2 tablespoons of hummus. (156 calories)
2 slices of unsweetened dried mango and 2 tablespoons of shelled pumpkin seeds. (140 calories)
1/4 cup of low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt topped with a ¼ cup of brown puffed rice cereal, and a ¼ cup of blueberries. (118 calories)
After Your Workout
Eat within two hours of finishing a hard workout to replenish muscle glycogen stores. Depending on the time of day you exercise, this may be a full meal, or it might be a small snack that gets you through to lunch or dinner. Choose foods that are balanced in protein and carbohydrate, but add more heart-healthy fat and fiber during your recovery. Also, include foods with high water content such as fruits and vegetables for rehydration.
A smoothie made with 1 cup of low fat milk, a ¼ cup of vanilla Greek yogurt, a ½ cup of frozen blackberries, a ½ cup of kale leaves, and 1 teaspoon of honey. (286 calories)
3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of honey, with 1 cup of red grapes for dipping. (219 calories)
A wrap with 1 whole wheat tortilla, 2 tablespoons of mashed avocado, 2 slices of smoked turkey, ¼ cup of shredded romaine lettuce, and 2 teaspoons of spicy brown mustard. (232 calories)
1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes mixed with 2 tablespoons of diced olives, a ½ cup of white cannellini beans, a ½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and two chopped basil leaves. (212 calories)
1 cup of prepared black bean soup, and 1 piece of whole wheat bread topped with avocado spread (2 tablespoons of smashed avocado mixed with 1 tablespoon of prepared salsa). (270 calories)
1 cup of chopped, grilled summer squash drizzled with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 2 ounces of chopped, cooked chicken over ½ cup of whole wheat pasta. (302 calories)
As long as you stay within your daily caloric requirement, a bedtime snack will not ruin your efforts to lose weight. If you eat an early dinner, and can’t stomach a snack before a morning workout, a snack before bedtime can be beneficial. Be sure to keep it light so that it doesn’t disrupt your sleep.
1 sliced banana drizzled with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter that has been heated for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. (215 calories)
1/4 cup of dried tart cherries and a ½ ounce of raw walnuts. (220 calories)
Hot chocolate made with 1 cup low fat milk, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. (144 calories)
When asked to name your number one problem area, many would say the back of the upper arm. Unlike their counterparts (biceps), the triceps are frequently underutilized in daily activities and weaken without special attention.
The triceps muscle has three heads, or portions, that originate at the shoulder blade, upper arm bone, and elbow. The triceps come into play when extending the forearm, such as when using a hammer. Toning these muscles will decrease underarm jiggle. While decreasing overall body fat is the only way to reduce arm fat, firming the arm muscles will improve the overall appearance your triceps.
The American Council on Exercise has sponsored research to determine which exercises are the most effective for toning and strengthening the triceps. The 8 most effective triceps exercises include:
Overhead Triceps Extensions
Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions
Closed-grip Bench Press
Researchers concluded that the top three exercises on the list are sufficient for quickly toning and strengthening the back of the upper arm. This is because triangle push-ups and dips use your body weight to strengthen the muscles. Without the assistance of a weight machine, cheating on form and range of motion is more difficult. Triceps kickbacks can be done with dumbbells or weighted household items such as water jugs or canned goods.
Perform strength-training exercises that target triceps muscles at least twice per week. It is best to rotate through two or three different exercises at each session with two sets of 8-12 repetitions per exercise. To vary your pattern, you can increase the weight and decrease the reps down to 6, or decrease your weight and increase reps up to 15. The variety of exercises and intensity will help fully train the different portions of the muscle.
Interval training is defined as a workout that changes the intensity of exercise at various intervals -- typically with a hard bout followed by an easier recovery bout. When applied to cardio workouts, interval training is a great way to not only add variety, but to also crank up the number of calories burned. Research clearly shows that interval training is the best way to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness.
Interval training is a great way to challenge your body in different ways because the varying intensity requires a reliance on different muscles. This means that you get a better overall body workout.
You can add intervals to any workout by alternating lower intensity intervals, also known as recovery periods, with higher intensity work intervals. The length and intensity of each bout can be tailored to meet your individual needs and training goals. An example would be 30 seconds to 2 minutes of higher intensity intervals, alternated with 2 to 5 minutes of lower intensity intervals. If you are new to interval training, these tips will help you get started.
The more intense the work interval, the longer recovery period you'll need.
The work intervals do not need to be at the same intensity. Likewise, the recovery periods can also alternate intensity and duration.
There are various ways to crank up the intensity of the work interval. For instance, if you are jogging, you can either increase your jogging speed or increase your incline.
Remember to start off slow and work from your current fitness level. If you are a walker, start by eyeing an object in the distance, such as a telephone pole. Then power walk to the pole with good form. Return to your normal pace and maintain this until your heart rate returns to your target range. Repeat this process throughout your walk.
As your fitness level increases, adjust the difficulty of your session by either increasing the length or intensity of the work interval, or decreasing the time of the rest interval.
Interval training can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. Whether you're swimming, bicycling, rowing, dancing or circuit training, intervals can enhance the quality, and reduce the monotony, of any exercise session.
From a change in brain biochemistry to an increase in self-confidence, regular exercise impacts the mind as much as the body. Here are 4 ways your workout reduces stress and improves your mood.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that improves mood, and its function is increased when you exercise. Physical activity also stimulates the release of endorphins, hormones that reduce feelings of pain and increase feelings of pleasure. Due to its power to increase these pleasure hormones, regular exercise is considered an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.
According to Dr. Virgil Wooten, a sleep medicine expert, 20 - 30 minutes of aerobic exercise will increase your body temperature for 4 to 5 hours, but it will then drop to a lower level than if you hadn’t exercised. This drop in temperature promotes restful sleep, which can improve your mood and reduce stress.
With so much emphasis placed on the necessity of a workout partner for motivation, the benefits of exercising alone are often overlooked. Taking a break from conversation allows you to reflect and organize your thoughts. A quiet workout reduces stress and leaves you feeling mentally refreshed.
Sense of accomplishment
The way you feel after reaching your goal weight or finishing a 10K run improves your self-esteem and gives you a more positive outlook. Your sense of accomplishment increases self-efficacy, which is the belief in your ability to accomplish a task. As your self-esteem and self-efficacy build, your positive view of exercise, and the motivation to stick with it, will improve.
Swimming is a great low impact cardiovascular exercise. If you swim and feel an increase in hunger a few hours after your workout, you are not alone. Research shows that swimming can increase appetite.
While the exact reason that swimming causes hunger isn’t clear, some research suggests it is due to body temperature. The cool water of the pool can decrease body temperature and constrict blood vessels in the skin, which can influence the action of hormones that control appetite.
It’s important to pay attention to your hunger and eating patterns to ensure that swimming doesn’t cause you to increase your food intake. There are a few things you can do to control your appetite and stay on track to reach your fitness goals.
Keep track of your hunger. Make notes when you feel hungry throughout the day and compare your non-swimming days to the days you workout in the pool. This will help you identify how swimming is influencing your appetite.
Exercise in warmer water. One study found that people who exercised in cold water consumed 44% more calories afterwards than those who swam in warm water.
Warm up after your workout. Raising your body temperature after swimming may help decrease the effects of cold water on your appetite. Put on warm clothes, take a short walk, or plan to do your strength training or more cardio following your time in the pool.
Plan a healthy snack. Help avoid unexpected hunger and plan to have a healthy snack about 30 minutes after your workout. Eat a balance of carbohydrates and protein such as bananas with peanut butter, yogurt with fresh fruit or a low-sugar energy bar.
Eat more often. On the days you swim, spread out your meals and snacks so that you are refueling the body every few hours.
Stay hydrated. When you stay cool in the water during a workout, it is easy to overlook your hydration needs. Later, when thirst kicks in, it’s possible to mistake it for hunger. Continue to drink fluids at regular intervals before, during and after your workout.