If you want to lose weight, it’s important to know what foods to eat, and when to eat them. The meals and snacks you consume before and after exercising give you energy, prime your metabolism, and help you drop more pounds. Study these tips before you head to the gym.
How to Eat Before You Work Out
Forget the myth about exercising on an empty stomach. You’re likely to wind up losing muscle, and your performance will suffer. Give your body what it needs to train hard.
1. Choose carbs and protein. Gear up with a helping of complex carbohydrates and fast-digesting protein. Some good choices include Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or an egg with broccoli.
2. Drink water. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 2 to 3 cups of water within 2 or 3 hours of your workout. You may want to drink a little more or less based on your body size and the weather.
3. Keep it light. You want just enough calories to sustain you without weighing you down. Go easy on the fats. Wait at least 3 hours after any large meal before starting intense exercise.
4. Limit fiber. While a high-fiber diet is great for many reasons, including lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar, save the bran for later. You can fill up after you’re done sweating.
5. Play it safe. Midway through a dance class is an awkward time to discover how your body will react to unfamiliar foods. Stick to your regular fare and save the culinary experiments for your downtime.
How to Eat After You Work Out
Exercise uses up the glycogen stored in your muscles. In order for your body to recover and keep burning calories efficiently, you need to replace those stored carbohydrates. Here’s how to refuel.
1. Act fast. Some studies suggest that your body’s ability to replenish glycogen peaks soon after your workout. Plan on eating right away or at least within 2 hours.
2. Balance it out. It’s time to enjoy the same complex carbohydrates and proteins you ate before, but now you can add more healthy fats into the mix. Feast on baked salmon with your favorite vegetables or stir fry some tofu with bok choy and red peppers.
3. Control portions. Of course, if you’re trying to reduce, you want to burn up more energy than you take in. Online calorie counters can help you calculate your individual needs so you can figure out effective serving sizes for each meal and snack.
4. Focus on quality. At the same time, keep in mind that evidence is building that not all calories are the same. For the sake of your overall health and fitness, filling your plate with whole foods is preferable to eating the same amount of processed products.
5. Replace fluids. Plain water is usually adequate for staying hydrated. Carry your water bottle with you so you can drink while you’re exercising and drink at least 8 ounces afterwards.
6. Restore potassium. If you sweat heavily or work out for more than an hour, consider sports drinks to replace potassium and other electrolytes. Coconut water and various fruit and vegetables juices will work too.
Lose weight faster and more safely by putting the power of nutrition to work for you. Enjoying delicious and nutritious snacks and meals before and after exercise will give you the energy you need to lift weights or run for miles. You’ll slim down without having to go hungry when you combine physical activity and a balanced diet.
Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy.
Last week I asked you all to offer up your best weight-loss tips.
And boy, did you deliver.
I’ve compiled some of your best tips into a list of ideas, below, for those looking to lose weight (and that’s probably most of us).
It’s not a step-by-step guide, and there are contradictory tips — but there are some great ones here, so pick and choose those that will work best for you and give them a try.
Note: I couldn’t include all of them, or it would have taken me 3 days to do this.
I just picked some of the best, and combined many of them.
Some tips may be slightly redundant, but I like them, so I included them.
General weight loss tips
Remember to keep your goals in sight to motivate yourself.
5 Word Diet Plan – and the only one that works: Eat Less and Move More!
Doing the Zen Habits 30-day challenge to make something a habit really helps make exercise a no-brainer. The first step is getting yourself to do it, after that, the gains are much easier to make.
To be successful you need to change your life. You need to take control of the bad habits you have turned into an unhealthy life. You need to be excited about it too. And you have to believe that you can do it. Dreams turn into reality very quickly when you work hard.
Don’t try to lose weight. The number one indicator of excessive weight gain in the future is attempting to lose weight in the past. Don’t diet, it won’t last. Instead get up and go get more exercise.
Ultimately weight loss is about the balance between calories taken in and calories burned. Take the weight you want to be and the activity level that you maintain and calculate the number of calories that you should eat to maintain that weight. Now you have to eat fewer calories than this number, on average, over time to lose weight and achieve your target. Keep a food diary with full daily calorie calculations. Write down everything.
Never, never, never eat between the 3 main meals. Then eat what you want when it is time to eat.
Avoid processed food, or at least food where you can’t pronounce the ingredients. Keep it as natural as possible.
Stop watching the scale every day. If you weigh yourself, do it just once a week — as soon as you wake up, after you use the bathroom.
No matter how much you want a change in your life, nothing will happen until you DO something. You can talk about starting an exercise regiment and eating healthier foods all you want, but nothing will change until you START DOING IT.
Change your schedule, if possible. If you exercise in the afternoon but overeat while while watching TV at night, try exercising at night. Go to work earlier, come home later, schedule your walks during times you know you’re vulnerable to snacking. Switch things up to help break bad habits.
For people who want to lose 100+ pounds, dealing with the underlying issues of self medicating depression or anxiety is going to be a lot more effective then anything else. Feeling bad about being fat and trying to lose weight, or putting yourself in exercise situations you dont feel comfortable in are not going to really help until the underlying issues of using food to treat boredom or anxiety or depression. After treating this underlying problem, the good habits will come without nearly so much struggle.
Start small. Changing your lifestyle overnight is very bad for your body and your mind. You’ll get sick of eating oatmeal 3 times a day, or grapefruit. Your life should be enjoyable and healthy!
Tell people around you what you’re doing. This will keep you motivated to continue. Don’t ask for their support, but say “I’m on this new thing where I’m going to kick my butt at the gym/road/bike today and” whatever.
Be aware of self-deception. It can sneak up on you from any angle. Examples of food deceptions: Breaded/fried chicken breast does not constitute an optimally healthy protein source, compared to simple grilled chicken breast. Potatoes do not constitute a viable vegetable source (they are a carbohydrate source).
Derive your self worth from something other than a number on a scale and instead gift yourself a body that will function well to serve your noble life’s goals.
Never give up, even after you have failed a few times. When you fail, start over. Watch those TV programs like “The Biggest Loser” or “Celebrity Fit Club”, because they are great motivators.
Rewards! New clothes make awesome rewards for weight loss. Going out with friends (but not for anything food related) is a great reward.
Weigh yourself but also take your measurements. Sometimes your scale won’t budge but your waistline will.
Get enough sleep – that’s the first and most important step. Without sleep, it’s harder to plan your meals, to exercise, or to consciously eat healthy.
Tell others your goals. Not only will you then have someone else also expecting you to perform but you’ll gain a cheering section!
Focus on one thing at a time. Everything we do is based on habits. If you’ve got to both get into the habit of eating great AND exercising daily, you run a big risk of getting overwhelmed when you’re not seeing results or you slip a little.
Find motivation other than within yourself. Workout FOR somebody else that you care about (your kids, loved ones, friends etc.). When you don’t feel like working out, remember that you’re doing it for them.
Focus on health and NOT weight loss. It is far more important that you live a happy, healthy life than look good naked. You’ll thank yourself when you are 80 and still lead an active life.
Healthy eating tips
Water water water. It kick-starts your metabolism. Stop drinking soda.
Make one change at a time. Don’t cut everything out at once. For example, cut out fried foods. When you’re used to that, cut out soda, etc.
Lay off the junk food, except for one day a week where you can eat what you like – it’ll help you stick to it and you won’t have the temptation to eat junk all the time.
Eat according to the Glycemic Index, sticking with low and medium index foods.
Be mindful of what you are eating. Keep a food journal or diary. Seeing it in writing always gives it weight and helps reveal patterns or triggers.
Stop the evening eating. You don’t want to eat and then go to sleep. All those calories just sit there unused while you sleep.
Eat mostly raw fruits, veggies and nuts.
Brush your teeth early in the evening rather than just before bed. It keeps you from snacking if you’re not really hungry.
Cut wheat-flour based products out of your diet. Wheat is surprisingly easy to replace when you start thinking about it – rice, oats (still some gluten there, but a lot less), more vegetables.
Portion control used with a 20 minute wait time — wait 20 minutes after eating the sensible portions, and then see if you still feel hungry. Nine times out of ten, you won’t. If you do, get a little more.
Cut out sugar.
No fast food. Period.
Commit to one diet — and stick to it for life. Start by making a list of low-calorie foods that you love, that you find satisfying; and when you’re hungry make sure you eat lots of those foods.
If you’re a parent, don’t absorb “invisible” calories by eating your kids’ food.
Snack between meals – starving yourself for 6 or 7 hours at a time between lunch and dinner means you will overeat at dinner.
Eat slow and you will only eat as much as you need to be full.
Whenever you eat, think about how much food you would waste by overeating. Your body doesn’t *need* all the food that’s on your plate, why waste it? You could eat the leftovers for lunch the next day and save yourself some money, or you could split it with your loved one and have company while you eat. You could give it to the homeless guy down the block who REALLY needs it. Any reason you find not to waste that food is a good one.
Everything in moderation. If you really want French fries and a hamburger, or ice cream, or a cookie it’s OK to indulge a little occasionally. Key word is occasionally. Better to indulge a little, than to binge later.
Learn to cook, from scratch. That way, you control what you are eating.
Don’t buy into the idea of “diet” foods. It’s better to eat the original food that has been less processed and only eat less.
Observe your hunger patterns. Choose a bedtime that’s early enough to keep you from after-dinner snacking. Stick to that bed-time. If you must snack before bed, have a something small and healthful. Maybe a tiny portion of whole grain cereal with milk.
Eat lots of fiber, it’s surprisingly filling compared to that cupcake.
Eat as soon after you get up as possible. This gets your metabolism working at a higher rate sooner in the day.
Cut out alcohol or reduce your intake to one or two glasses a week.
If you are hungry between meals, try eating a small portion of food that is high in protein. It can be more effective to eat one piece of cheese or some yoghurt or nuts than to eat bread or crackers or other snack foods.
Go to bed early and get up early. If you stay up late, you will overeat, guaranteed. It doesn’t matter if you are a night person; change into a morning person. When you go to bed early, you don’t think about food all night.
Instead of counting calories, concentrate on reducing your fat intake. Fat that you eat converts more readily into body fat than does protein or carbohydrate.
Try to enjoy your food, eat it slowly and consciously.
Only diet on weekdays. Don’t binge on weekends, but save two days a week to eat the yummy things. Also, because many people really can’t break that chocolate addiction, calculate one treat every day into your calories.
Positive change is easier than negative change. Instead of thinking of foods that are “bad” and that you feel like you need to cut out, think about all the new recipes and foods you will get to try if you start experimenting with more vegetables, more beans, more spices, etc.
Don’t count calories after you each them, count before.
Create a routine for what you eat – for a month, do not think of food as something to be enjoyed, think of it as fuel.
Take one of the three meals a day, and make it healthier (veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc.). Combine this with drinking ONLY water when at work, and it’s quite the effective method to lose a few pounds.
Eat a varied diet. Only, half your usual portions.
Eat nothing that you have not bought yourself, cooked yourself, and cleaned up after. This way laziness works in your favor. If you don’t feel like going to the store, or if you have stuff but don’t feel like cooking it or cleaning up afterwards, you are less likely to eat.
If you’re a stress eater, try sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Lots of chewing, not many calories. Just don’t spit the seeds on the floor.
Reduce the intake of three white things – white flour (all purpose flour), salt and sugar. Get rid of white flour completely if possible.
Go backpacking. Carrying a heavy pack and walking around a lot will help you shed a lot of pounds.
Exercise 3 times per week.
Exercise: any kind any time. Sure there are better times and better exercises for fat burning, but they all beat sitting on the couch.
Cardiovascular training in the morning before you eat breakfast. This forces your body to utilize stored body fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, since you are in a carb-depleted state after having not eaten for 8-10 hours.
Regular aerobic exercise helps, for a period of at least 40 minutes.
If you can’t run, start slow by walking for 9 minutes and jog for 1 minute. Do that a couple of times and then slowly exchange the minutes walking for minutes running.
Buy a pedometer and try to get 10,000 steps per day in. That’s about 5 miles +/- depending on your stride length.
Walk everywhere (carrying a baby while you walk also helps a lot).
Swim, swim, swim.
Find fun exercise. Join a softball team, commute to work on a bike, whatever. Your strategy should be time-sensitive – only make choices you can see yourself committing to for years, be it gym, dieting, whatever – temporary won’t work.
If you are resistant to exercising, consider volunteer labor. Walk dogs at the animal shelter. (Find a shelter at Petfiinder.com. Do beach or riverside clean-ups with a local environmental group. Volunteer on building and repair projects.)
Replace your least favorite TV show with mild calisthenics for 30 or so minutes.
Get an active dog! They will force you to get outside every day, and they make the best exercise companions.
Make friends (if you haven’t already) with very physically active people. If you have very active friends, you will be exercising without even noticing it because you will be having fun with friends.
Do squats while brushing the back sides of your teeth and calf rises while brushing the fronts. Then you get in at lease some exercise and also brush long enough.)
Take the stairs. Walk or bike ride that short distance instead of driving.
Use those multi-colored stars on the calendar for each day you’ve achieved your goal — exercise, diet, whatever it is. Gives you something, small as it may be, to look forward to.
Start walking outside to get fresh air, which translates into better mood. If rains, use treadmill. But walk fast, no sissy stuff.