pre-workout

What to Eat, When to Eat, and What it Means for Your Workouts

Thankfully, it seems the era of fad-diets, fat-free, no-carb or other diets that entirely slash a whole category of macronutrients is coming to a close! But with that said, it is still difficult to find reliable information on proper nutrition! Let’s take a look at how eating factors into the effectiveness of your workouts, and maybe we can make sense of some of this.

“What should I eat before/after my workout?”

For most of us who exercise for health and not training for a high-level competition, our meals will contain some combination of high quality protein, high quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and some fruit and vegetables 1-2 hours before and/or after your workout to get the maximal benefit. Whether it is “and” vs “or” will partly depend on the intensity/duration of your activity, daily caloric intake and what is on the menu for the rest of your day

Break it down for me: What’s important – and Why?

Protein can help maintain muscle size, reduce muscle damage, provide your bloodstream with amino acids when it needs them most, and helps you adapt to your exercise over the long term! But most people are at least somewhat aware of the importance of protein for strength training – what about carbohydrates?

Pre-Exercise carbs fuel your workout and help with recovery/muscle retention with even shorter, intense workouts. Post-exercise carbs however should come from whole foods like fruits and vegetables because these are better tolerated by the system than insulin-spiking refined carbohydrates and are just as good at restoring muscle glycogen over 24 hours.

Alright…but tell me more about “When”.

If you ate a normal-sized, balanced meal a couple of hours before training (or a smaller shake closer to training), then you have 1-2 hrs after training to eat your post-workout meal and still maximize the benefits of workout nutrition.

But if you are like many who work out early in the morning or directly after leaving work, and you ate only a small meal within the last 3-4 hours before your workout, or you are in a fasted state, then you should consume a meal within one hour after your workout to prevent a slowed recovery. A whole food meal pre/post workout provides many things including important phytonutrients that build muscle, supply energy, decrease inflammation, and boost recovery.

Ya know, it just isn’t the same for me!

You might be right! In the end, the total amount of protein and carbohydrate consumed over the course of the day is far more important to lean mass gain, fat loss, and performance improvements than any specific nutrient timing strategy. If you are a high-quality eater (you are only looking to tweak minor things) check out this infographic that further breaks down your meals by body type!

When in doubt, keep it simple and fill each nutrient slot:
Protein – Scrambled Eggs with veggies
Fat – 1 “thumb” of cheese
Carb – 1 slice of Ezekial toast or fruit

Now we’ve got some recipes to help make finding a well-balanced, complete meal a little easier for you!

Asian Scrambled Eggs:

Shake up your eggs with a few new elements like some incredibly healthy ginger root and nutritious snow peas!
Check the recipe here!

Classic Protein Pancakes:

Rolled oats, eggs, cottage cheese, fruit – these pancakes have everything you need to call them a complete meal!

Find this recipe and more on our previous blog post here!

PB & Chocolate Banana Shake:

1 scoop choc protein powder, 1 fistful of spinach, 1 banana, 1 “thumb” of peanut butter, and 8 oz choc unsweetened almond milk. Blend and enjoy!

Need even more ideas? How about Banana Cream Pie Oatmeal?? Peaches and Cream Omelet?? You can find those and MORE in Precision Nutrition’s Gourmet Recipes List!

The Buzz About Foam Rolling

Let’s dive deeper into the reasoning behind the encouragement to foam roll. Last week, we talked about different methods to combat soreness, which included foam rolling. This is probably not ground breaking news to you, but foam rolling is widely used in the fitness industry and has quite the benefactors we fitness trainers want for every exerciser out there.

When you receive a massage, how many of you think to yourselves, “I wish I could do this to myself”? Good news and money-saving news, the foam roller works in ways a deep tissue massage works.

Some benefits of foam rolling:

For starters, it breaks up scar tissue, or tissues that replace normal skin after an injury. This is one reason why last week’s blog post is so important, because if we don’t combat muscle soreness with proper pre and post-workout habits, then our muscles won’t rebuild themselves to the best of their abilities.

Foam rolling releases tension in the muscles. Taking that tension, or pressure, off the joints allows muscles to move more freely, giving the body a greater range in motion. In addition, by rolling out your muscles before exercise, you’ll get the blood flowing and circulation will kick in! So when it’s time to perform in the gym, you’re heated up and your body is ready for action!

The process of foam rolling also stimulates the lymphatic system. Foam rolling wakes things up and releases toxins, making room for better oxygen delivery into the body during a workout, which in turn improves circulation and recovery.

Is it making more sense why our coaches instruct you to come early for a session and stay after to roll out your muscles?  We really want our members to stay and utilize there time at Ellipse. Some of our locations sell foam rollers, and again, they are a great way to save a buck on a massage! It’s worth it and your muscles will thank you!

5 Strategies to Reduce Muscle Soreness

Exercise induces free radicals, boosts serotonin, and energizes. It aids us in burning fat and building muscle. If all goes as planned, we leave the gym feeling awake and accomplished! Exercise also causes our muscles to contract and our bodies to sweat, increasing our chances of muscle cramps, fatigue and dehydration. This is why it is equally important to not only exercise, but to take care of yourself before and after a workout. A large part of getting fit is dealing with muscle fatigue and soreness. Here are 5 Ellipse tips to help reduce muscle soreness and keep you heading back to us for more!

Foam Rolling

What an inexpensive deep tissue massage, am I right? At Ellipse Fitness we encourage members to foam roll for 5 – 15 minutes before and after each workout session. Foam rolling can inhibit overactive muscles by breaking up adhesions and loosening up muscle knots. Before a workout, foam rolling hydrates the tissue and gets blood flowing. After a workout, rolling over tight spots and trigger points can relax the muscle. By rolling them out, you help to clean up some of the lactic acid that builds up when you exercise.

Foam Rollers do not break the bank, but even so, a tennis ball will also do the trick. Heather Trevarthen, Owner and Trainer of the Allouez location, says they keep tennis balls at the studio and hand them out to members to use at home.  Heather says, “Tennis Balls help to grind into those hard to reach areas of the body, like the Piriformis.”

Stretching

Like foam rolling, stretching is a must do when it comes to combatting soreness. Intense training contracts muscles and shortens the fibers. By lengthening them before and after a workout, you’re increasing your mobility and recovery. A post-workout stretch series is excellent for bringing your heart rate back down. Use your breathe to guide you and stretch into each move.

Recovery Fuel(s)

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery. BCAAs preserve the bulk of muscle fibers through increased protein synthesis and reduction of muscle breakage. BCAAs can be added to your diet easily by adding a scoop into your water bottle before you workout. Sip during your workout and finish afterwards. Ask your Ellipse trainer to hook you up with some from the pro shop!

Eating Right

Getting those BCAAs is a big part of proper nutrition intake for a healthy post-workout recovery. However, you also need to actually eat. Though you might be trying to consume less during your fitness journey, it is what you eat and how you prepare it that matters. Make sure to be getting enough protein, carbs, and healthy fats in order to repair muscles.

Ultimately when we experience soreness, it is because of inflammation. After your post workout protein, add foods such as salmon, avocado, or flaxseed. These foods are rich in Omega-3s and have anti-inflammatory compounds; Properties that will help to dial back inflammation and soreness.

Movement

When your trainer tells you to cool down, we usually don’t listen because we have to run and pick up our kids or get to work. The cool down instructions are to encourage you to keep moving, even when you have finished your sweat session. The importance behind this is that circulation promotes healing.

Active recovery is something we talk about at Ellipse often. A low-intensity exercise that gets your blood flowing without taxing your muscles is what we consider active recovery, such as yoga or walking. Though you may be tempted to hit the couch after an evening workout, try to keep the movement going for a bit to avoid muscle cramps and enhanced soreness.