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Feel, Look, and Workout Better…

by Pilates At PTCare, March 1, 2014

Your body needs fuel to exercise, its as simple as that. Efficient nourishment before your Pilates class makes a difference in how you feel physically and mentally during your workout. It will also positively affect the results you obtain from all your hard work. By combining the correct foods and eating them at the right time you will go through class with more energy and awareness. This allows you to work deeper and push yourself further towards your goals.
Eating too much of the wrong thing or eating to close to your workout can leave you feeling weighted down and dreading the 100s on the Reformer more than ever. On the other hand, not eating enough or eating too far in advance leads to low energy, unnecessary shaking, and a ravenous appetite by the top of your final last roll down. Consuming a meal that combines different types of food and getting the timing right is key to a successful workout. You want food that keeps your energy level high and protects your muscles, yet doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed. The challenge is knowing how much you can eat and how far in advance to eat it. This varies for every person. Through trial and error you will find the right formula for your body. Below are a few suggestions to help you get started.
What to eat?
– You Need Carbohydrates! Be sure to include carbohydrates in your diet before exercising. A combination of simple and complex carbs is ideal such as whole-wheat toast with banana slices. This provides you with long lasting energy throughout your routine as well as a helpful boost of energy right away.
– Add some Protein: Supplementing your carbohydrates with a moderate amount of protein will aid in maintaining a full sensation and high energy. Greek yogurt and peanut butter are good options. Protein also helps to repair and build muscle so save your high protein meal for after your workouts when your muscles are more receptive to its benefits.
– Watch Fat and Fiber: A little natural fat before working out is great for maintaining blood sugar levels, but fat and fiber hold longest in your stomach meaning they take the longest to digest. Stay away from fatty meats and oils to avoid feeling to full while exercising. Be especially careful if you have a sensitive stomach. 
Sugar: Keep artificial sugars to a minimum. This is a good rule in general but especially pre-workout because they can create spikes and crashes in blood sugar and energy levels. Natural sugars such as those in fruits are fine for most people. Others with sensitivity to sugar may want to avoid it all together before exercising.
Water: Always hydrate! Whether or not you are planning to exercise in the near future water is your friend. Being properly hydrated will help you perform better in any task. You should be dinking 16-24 oz. of water an hour before your workout and continue hydrating during and after exercise.
When to eat?
Aim to eat a meal within 1-2 hours of working out to ensure your body hasn’t used up the fuel before you’re done exercising. If you’re workout is scheduled for 3-4 hours after your meal, add a substantial snack before you exercise. If you workout early in the morning and can’t fit a meal in, opt for a hearty snack or a nighttime snack the evening before. Working out in the morning without eating since dinner the night before is a big no no. If you exercise after work, try to eat a bigger lunch followed by a large snack before your workout. This will stop you from daydreaming about dinner through your entire session and from over eating once you leave the studio.
Just Eat Something!
If timing is a struggle, you don’t like to eat early in the morning, or you’re rushing to class from work just make sure you eat something! Choose whatever option is easiest for you and your busy day. The detriment of working out on an empty stomach is not worth it. Your body needs fuel to exercise, specifically glycogen. If it cannot find a sufficient supply of glycogen in the form of food, it will start to take from the next easiest source, your muscles. That’s right, not only fat as many people believe, but also your hard earned muscles.
Snack & Meal Ideas
– My personal favorite: Whole-wheat toast, peanut/almond/nut butter, sliced banana, sprinkle of cinnamon
– Greek yogurt, granola, cut up fruit
– Smoothie: your favorite fruit combination (can combine fresh and frozen), a handful of spinach/kale, coconut/almond milk, peanut/almond/nut butter, coconut oil, chia/flax seeds for an extra boost, hemp/rice protein powder if needed, add ice if using only fresh fruit
– Oatmeal with almonds and raisings
– Chicken and veggie wrap with hummus (add carbohydrates as needed)
– Trail Mix (not the kind made 70% of m&m’s)