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Healthy Snacks for Shorter Workouts: By Lauren

She Rocks Fitness is so excited to have Lauren as a regular writer on the blog! Lauren and I first met when we were both attending Tillai University at Om Time. Lauren has been an athlete for most of her life and has a true passion for eating and living a healthy lifestyle. With her abundance of nutritional information and experimentation, she has some truly amazing suggestions for any active person. Enjoy her first post this week. It’s truly awesome!

When Katie of She Rocks Fitness asked me to do a guest post on pre-exercise snacks I jumped at the opportunity to share some ideas with all of her readers! Since I have so much to say on pre-exercise snacks I have broken everything up in to three separate posts: ideas for exercise higher in intensity lasting about an hour or less, ideas for exercise lower in intensity lasting more than an hour, and ideas for exercise designed to train for an endurance event lasting longer than 3 hours. This post will cover an introduction to myself and ideas for higher intensity exercise, such as strength or interval training or various cardio activities, lasting a about an hour or less.

My name is Lauren, and while I am not a registered dietitian I have done A LOT of personal research on nutrition and exercise, including a few online courses through UCLA Extension, and I have done a lot of experimenting on myself and my boyfriend. Growing up in Boulder, CO I have lived an active lifestyle pretty much since the day I was born. I did gymnastics when I was little, played softball and ran track and field in high school. More recently, I ran the Boulder Back Roads Half Marathon in September of 2008, the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, CA in October of 2008, I participated in the all women Venus de Miles road bike ride in Boulder, CO in August of 2009, and I recently finished a 200 hr yoga teacher certification through Om Time in Denver, CO in May. In addition to running, cycling, and yoga I also enjoy swimming, strength training, hiking, pilates, snowboarding, and telemark skiing.

The biggest challenge in either training for a particular event or participating in multiple activities is making sure your body has enough energy to continue training and recover between workouts. This is why having a snack before exercising is extremely important. Fasting before exercise can put your body in a state of low blood sugar, leaving you feeling shaky, drained, and possibly unable to finish your work out. Instead, having a snack that is easily digestible, high in simple carbohydrates and low in protein will continue to support the carbohydrate stores your body uses for energy, making your active lifestyle more sustainable.

The quantity and components of your pre-exersize snack will depend primarily on what level of activity you plan on engaging in, for how long and how long you have to digest before exercising. For exercise that is higher in intensity and approximately one hour in duration, your pre-exercise snack should be composed primarily of simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible for a quick supply of energy.

Secondarily, the type of snack you choose will also depend on your long term goals. If you are interested in losing weight, your goal should be to have a snack that gives you just enough energy to make it through your workout without feeling deprived or drained afterwards. If you are interested in maintaining or gaining weight, you should not be so focused on the quantity of your snack, but instead be in touch with how the snack affected the quality of your workout and how you recovered afterwards.

A few good examples of pre-exercise snacks for higher intensity, shorter duration workouts, such as strength or interval training, or cardio activities lasting about an hour would be:

  • Banana topped with 1/2 – 1 Tbs nut butter (almond, peanut or sunflower)
  • 2 fresh medjool dates pitted and stuffed with a few almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, or 1/2 – 1 Tbs of nut butter
  • 2 Fig Newton’s and a small glass of low fat milk
  • Smoothie made with 1 serving of frozen fruit (like bananas or mangoes), 1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 2 C of fresh or steamed (then frozen) spinach (optional), and 1/2 Tbs of freshly ground flax seeds or 1 tsp coconut oil

While all these ideas and suggestions are a great starting point, it is important for you to experiment with what works best for you. If adding more or less protein helps sustain your energy levels during your workout, do it. If you prefer a savory snack, like a baked potato and salsa, over a snack comprised mainly of fruit, do it. If a larger or smaller portion works better for you, go for it. It is important to be in touch with how your nutrition affects your energy levels during and after workouts in addition to how long it takes you to recover in between workouts. Take it as a sign that your nutrition may not be on point if you constantly feel drained, irritated, have trouble sleeping or if it takes you more than 3 days to recover from a workout, and begin to experiment.

Feel free to contact me at l.christine.a@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments. I will be back with more ideas for exercise lasting over an hour or for endurance events!

She Rocks Fitness offers At-Home Personal Training, Boot Camps, Yoga, and On-Line Training Routines. Make sure to check out She Rocks Fitness.

Contact me at kuhran@sherocksdenver.com or (973) 978-7359.

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