The Great Debate: Pre-Workout Fuel

16 10 2009

TGIF! TGIF!

Good morning FitFeat friends!  Are you so excited that the weekend is upon us once more?  I am ESPECIALLY excited because this weekend they are forecasting some 70+ degree weather and sunshine!  More chances for me to get some Vitamin D action!  😉

What a week it has been.  Have you noticed what’s been missing this week?  WOGGING!  My poor dogs.  They haven’t been out on a walk since Monday evening.  I’m a bad puppy-mommy this week!  I’ve had daily “social-cizing” plans and the rest of the time I’ve been glued to my PC in preparation for the upcoming blog move. 

Maybe yet today I’ll be able to get them out.   

Check out my new breakfast creation:

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Now I know what you’re thinking:  “OMG what IS that?  It looks disgusting!”  But let me tell you this was one delicious little pre-workout fuel!  It is toasted Ezekial smeared with coconut oil (in lieu of vegan butter) and then smeared again with a MEDJOOL DATE!  Mmmm coconutty-datey sweetness!  Brendan Brazier (professional Ironman triathlete) says that coconut oil and dates are great exercise fuel:  the coconut oil has MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) that are more easily converted to energy by the body, not to mention easily-digested simple carbs in the form of the date. 

I often will eat half of a Coconut Cream Pie Larabar for pre-running fuel thanks to Brendan’s info.  That particular Larabar contains dates, coconut and coconut oil. 

I met up with my friend (and fellow personal trainer) at The Bluffs yesterday morning for a hilly run.  Wendy is a serious running pro, let me tell you.  She’s a multi-time marathoner (including the BOSTON which one must qualify to enter).  The only reason I’m able to run with her currently is because she is nursing a foot injury.  Notice I’m not saying “keep up with her currently” — because she still could have TOTALLY left me in the dust yesterday, I know it.  🙂 

We got in 3.62 miles of hills and dales.  It was a BEAUTY of a morning!  And I felt fantastic afterward.  Wendy, thanks for a great time – I’m looking forward to going again soon!

After that I hit up Starbucks to catch up with another friend and her adorable son, where I had a grande SOY STEAMER.  (Essentially that means I have Starbucks heat me up a nice cup of soy milk, with no coffee or flavoring, and then pay them probably 3 times what a whole container of soy milk would cost!)  Ahhh gotta love th SBUX.  (Thank you Magen for treating — that was very sweet of you!)

Riley never gets any photo love since Rascal is the ham of the family, so I had to get her in the shot.  See what she’s saying with her eyes?  It’s “why haven’t you walked me today, ya big jerk!”  🙂

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Lunchtime meant it was time for me to get my major veggie fix.  I still don’t think photos do this salad bowl justice.  It is HUGE.  I measured yesterday and it is 11″ in diameter.  🙂  This one was chock full of spinach, heirloom tomatoes, yellow pepper, dulse, avocado, zucchini ribbons, kalamata olives, nutritional yeast, and pepper.  Dressed with extra virgin olive oil.  I ate every last bite and had a few baked potato chips on the side. 

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A little Pecan Pie snack in the afternoon: 

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And leftover “Lazy Girl Dinner” from the other night whenI had Amy’s Organic Southwestern Vegetable soup.  I had it in a mug with a  little raw goat cheddar and Mary’s Gone Crackers on the side.  Right back to the PC I went…  MSP had his last softball game of the season, so I was right back to the PC to get some more blog work done.

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I did need an evening snack since my soup didn’t keep me full very long, so I made a bag of homemade microwave popcorn (1/4 cup of plain popcorn kernels in a brown lunch bag, fold up the top, microwave for up to two-and-a-half minutes or until the popping sounds are far apart).  No fake butter flavor, no crazy chemicals, no fumes that allegedly cause lung cancer.  Sprinkle with some sea salt and/or nutritional yeast, and munch away!  

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I fell asleep while watching “The Office”.  Lame.  All the social activity of the day combined with a whole lot of sitting at the computer made Shari very sleepy…

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So for today’s discussion, I’d love to hear how you fuel your workouts
Are you an “empty stomach exerciser” or a “fully fueled exerciser“? 

I definitely vary, depending on the situation.  For running, ideally I get it done first thing in the morning after just a cup of coffee (and maybe a bite or two of Larabar at the most).  I feel lighter on my feet and don’t experience ‘side stitches’ when I don’t have food in the system. 

But sometimes when I meet up with running buddies, it’s usually a little later in the day and I don’t like to go that long without food.  So I’ll try to eat something about 90 minutes prior to the outing (usually anything sooner and I get severe side cramps during the run).  Yesterday’s toast with the coconut oil and date worked perfectly.  I had some simple carbs, some complex carbs and the coconut oil.  The date gave me some quick energy and the sprouted grain toast gave me some sustained energy.  It was plenty for my run and held me over for about 3 hours until it was time for SBUX. 

Other forms of exercise (like my weight training and hiking) don’t cause me to have to overthink the food situation as much.  Weight training is usually first thing on an empty stomach.  For hiking I eat about 90 minutes for hitting the trail, then bring a Larabar in case I need it on the trail.

There are a lot of schools of thought as to whether you should work out on an empty stomach vs. being ‘properly’ fueled.  Some say that if you exercise on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, you’ll burn more fat (still burning the same number of calories, but because your glycogen stores will be lower first thing in the a.m. you potentially dig into fat stores sooner.)  On the other hand, there are those that say if you exercise without properly fueling for it, you will be causing a bit of catabolism of the precious muscle tissue we all work so hard to keep.

My opinion is this is highly individualized from one person to the next.   Feeling crampy or nauseous during a workout from a belly full of food isn’t something that will keep you coming back for more.  But feeling lightheaded or dizzy from not eating enough and hence lacking energy isn’t good either.   Base it off of how long or how intense the workout will be.  Common sense applies here.  Listen to your body and take note of how you feel so that next time you can make the right ‘tweaks’ to feel FANTASTIC during your workouts. 

Isn’t that really what it’s all about anyway?  🙂  I’d rather feel great during my workouts (which means I’ll be more inclined to do it again tomorrow, and the day after that, etc.) than be too focused on what percentage of the calories burned are from fat.  (Been there, done that…!)   Overall if you are moving your body regularly and eating nutritious foods, you’ll get where you want to go.

Let us know which side of the fence you’re on — drop a comment!

Alrighty friends, I’ve got a LOT on the plate today so I’m gonna get cracking!  Have a FAB FRIDAY! 

If all goes as planned today I may be back later on with the last notice before the blog moves.  If not, you’ll know I hit an speed bump… 😉  

See ya next time! 

— Shari B. =)

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