I often see articles about the “best pre-workout snacks” to eat. But how many people really require one? If you’re going out for a walk or a bike ride or playing a little tennis, you probably don’t need to eat before you go. Many people just assume that they need a snack when it’s really not necessary.
So when should you eat a pre-workout snack? If it’s been several hours since your last meal, you might want to eat a little something, especially if you’re starting to feel hungry and/or low on energy. You also might want a snack if you’re going to be doing intense exercise for more than an hour. If you have a health condition, such as low blood sugar or diabetes, you probably need a pre-workout snack but talk to your doctor to see what’s best for you.
If you decide you need a snack before working out, light carbohydrates are usually best. This could be a piece of fruit or some whole grain crackers. Avoid foods that are mostly sugar, such as juice, because you’ll end up with a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash. Foods high in protein or fat are usually not a good choice either because they take energy to digest so they can leave you feeling tired and sluggish during the workout.
Whether you have a snack or not, be sure to drink water before heading out. And bring water with you to drink during your workout. Most people feel the effects of dehydration long before they feel the effects of a missed snack.
Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.
Categories: Nutrition Advice from Stephanie Karpinske, R.D. | Tags: challenge 2, exercise, fitness, healthy eating, nutrition, pre-workout snack, pre-workout snacks, snacks, stephanie karpinske
Here’s how you can follow their lead and do the same:
Q. Does everyone need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day?
A. No, adults need more. Eight 8-ounce glasses is a guideline, not a one-size-fits-all recommendation. “The amount of water you require depends on many factors,” says Stephanie, the Lehman’s nutritionist, who suggests you start with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations of thirteen 8-ounce glasses for men and nine 8-ounce glasses for women.
The IOM recommends 7 glasses for girls 9 to 13, 8 glasses for boys 9 to 13 and girls 14 to 18, and 11 glasses for boys 14 to 18. Bump this up if you are physically active or live in a hot or humid climate or at a high altitude.
And remember: You don’t have to meet your water needs through H20 alone. Caffeine-free liquids count, as do fruits and vegetables like watermelon, grapefruit, lettuce, broccoli and tomatoes, some of which are 90% water.
Smart Drink Swaps
When the heat rises, it’s nice to cool off with a drink. But some summer tonics can do in your diet. Water and unsweetened beverages are ideal, but if you treat yourself, here’s how to avoid going overboard.
If You Want a: Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino 16 oz.
Know It’s: 400 calories
You’d Have to: Run 3.4 miles in 40 minutes to work that off.
Instead Try a: Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino Light 16 oz. 130 calories
If You Want a: 7-Eleven Cherry Orange Blitz Slurpee 16 oz.
Know It’s: 110 calories
You’d Have to: Lift weights for 30 minutes to nix those calories.
Instead Try a: 7-Eleven Slurpee Lite Fanta Sugar-Free Cherry Limeade 12 oz. 30 calories
If You Want a: Red Lobster Traditional Lobsterita 24 oz.
Know It’s: 890 calories
You’d Have to: Bike 16 miles in one hour after an indulgence like this.
Instead Try a: Red Lobster Classic Margarita On The Rocks 4.75 oz. 250 calories
A Two-Step Motivational Plan
To keep them going strong, each family had a coaching session with motivational expert Tony Ricci, senior health and fitness specialist at Pfizer. “The secret to remaining focused on a goal is being able to define it and visualize it,” says Ricci. Here’s how to do just that.
Be specific. Don’t simply write down your goals; write down the true, intimate reasons why you want to do something and what your life will be like once you accomplish those goals. For example, “When I lose 20 pounds, I’ll stop making excuses about not wanting to go to the pool and have more energy to bond with my kids on weekend bike rides.”
Create a picture. Gather images that represent your goal (and its rewards) as a constant reminder to yourself of what you’re after. Use a bulletin board, poster board or Pinterest board to post photos of the little black dress you want to fit into or the beach you want to (fearlessly) wear a bathing suit on.
What have you done to drink more water? Share in the comments below!
“Water becomes water and she reflects and contemplates herself till she is water and finally she is water and she does not exit as water but she is composition of W-A-T-E-R.”
–by Nyein Way, ZeN Poetry of Water
So the water challenge ended in a tie and both families are winners. What did we get? Season passes to Six Flags Great Adventure, which is only an hour away from our home in New Jersey. And, interesting fact, we never knew: If you buy a season pass to one Six Flags theme park, you receive free admission to most of the other Six Flags theme parks. We have never been to any of the other theme parks, but I think we may plan a weekend trip to one of them to celebrate. It’s nice to have a prize we can enjoy as a family all summer long!
Did you duplicate our hydration challenge at home? How did you do? Post a comment and let me know!
As I shared before, our challenge was to consume as little wine and beer as possible. While we love water, we equally love wine and beer. That’s not to say we consume equal amounts of water and alcohol. If that were the case, then I think we’d need more than the Family Circle Healthy Family Challenge. We’d need to go to some meetings and an intervention.
In the beginning it was hard. We really had to keep our eye on the prize and know that we’re challenged with this so that we can gain more healthy habits. After talking to experts and really feeling a difference in consuming less, it wasn’t difficult.
When we heard we tied with the Avaglianos, I was happy for both of us. I knew that we, Andy and I, worked so hard in changing and from what I heard the Avagliano family worked hard to get the healthy amount of water in daily. This was great for both families because it made us both realize the importance of everything in moderation regardless of whether it’s wine, beer, soda, coffee, or energy drinks.
The prize far exceeded what I ever thought. I imagined maybe we’d get a water delivery service or something. But NO. They shocked us (in a good way). We get tickets for Six Flags water and amusement park in St. Louis, MO and a hotel stay in the area, just for making healthy choices. This comes at a great time because we weren’t financially equipped to take the kids on a family vacation this year.
We are blown away with the opportunity this challenge–all challenges really–have presented us with. We are so blessed and so thankful to Family Circle!
It’s a tie!
This month we peered into the Lehmans’ and Avaglianos’ cups, mugs and glasses. What we found was a health mistake your crew can probably relate to: Drinking sweetened beverages was expanding their waistlines. “So many drinks are loaded with sugar, which adds excess calories to your diet,” explains Elizabeth Fassberg, R.D., the Avaglianos’ nutritionist. Because liquid calories are much less satisfying than those from food, they can lead to overindulging. Avoid downing the wrong beverages—which may pack on pounds, trigger energy slumps and even increase your blood pressure—with these tips from the families.
The Lehmans’ Tips
At first glance, the Lehmans seem to sip right. Tiffany and Andy avoid soda and juice and whip up healthy smoothies at home rather than buying the pre-made kind, which can be high in calories and sugar. They’re also big water drinkers, gulping down one to two gallons a day as a family. But mom and dad were drinking major calories when it came to the beer, Merlot and Cabernet they paired with meals three or four times a weekend. Now they drink beer or wine just once a week. As a result, Tiffany’s blood pressure is back to normal and she’s lost 3 pounds. Here, their better beverage plan.
★ Portion control your cup. “Four big glasses of wine or three 20-ounce beers can add up to 800 calories,” explains Stephanie, the Lehmans’ nutritionist. Even one 8-ounce glass of wine can have the same calorie count as a 4-ounce rib-eye steak. Using Wine-Trax glasses helped the Lehmans pace themselves. “Once my mind was made up to do this, cutting back on the beer wasn’t difficult,” says Andy. “Plus, I had more energy, slept better and the weight came off easily.”
★ Know the impact. “We learned your liver stores fat cells from alcohol,” says Tiffany. “Since we want to slim down, that was a motivator.”
★ Mix your drinks. The Lehmans had a glass of water between each glass of wine or beer. “This gives your hand and mouth something to do and keeps you satisfied,” says Tiffany. Plus, it helps you cut back on the amount of alcohol consumed.
★ Make mocktails. The Lehmans treat their kids, Jack and Anna, to juice or soda once a week. But even that adds excess sugar and calories. Since Anna likes soda and lemonade, Tiffany prepared healthier versions with a SodaStream carbonated beverage maker. “Both our kids loved this,” says Tiffany. As for cocktails, check out the great nonalcoholic recipes here.
Before this month’s challenge, no one in the Avagliano clan was getting the recommended amount of water his or her body needed to function efficiently, feel satisfied and slim down. The New Jersey family was drinking a combined total of just four to six glasses a day. Peggy and Peter were dependent on rich coffee drinks, diet beverages and caffeinated tea. Amanda and Michael favored apple juice and sweet iced tea. But one month of thinking before drinking led Peter to drop 7 pounds, Peggy to lose 2 and Michael to shed 3. Here’s how they did it.
★ Know what’s in your cup. “Every workday morning for five years, I had a 16-ounce low-fat French vanilla cappuccino from a local convenience store,” says Peter. That was until he checked its nutritional information online and saw it had 250 calories, 56 grams of carbs, 37 grams of sugar and 2 grams of saturated fat—none of which is good for Peter’s type 2 diabetes. “I was shocked, especially because I thought it was healthy to order the low-fat option instead of the full-fat one. Now I realize that regular coffee is a better choice and haven’t had a French vanilla cappuccino since,” he says.
★ Make simple substitutions. Peggy was drinking 12 to 15 cups of black tea daily. Although she didn’t fill them with sugar and milk, they added up to a lot of caffeine. “Some caffeine is fine, but this was too much,” says Elizabeth, Peggy was also missing the greater cancer-fighting benefits offered by green teas and the potential weight-loss benefits from white tea. “I cut back by alternating tea with water and replacing at least one mug a day with green tea,” says Peggy, who pared down to six to eight cups. Peter, who spends a lot of time on the road for work, also started choosing water over diet soda, and that cut his cravings for snacks such as M&M’s and chips.
★ Sweeten up your water. Before the challenge, Michael drank one glass of water a day at most. But once the family followed Fassberg’s tips to liven up their H2O with things like lemon wedges, raspberries and strawberries, he (and the rest of the family) started toting water bottles everywhere. The result? He upped his water intake to a gallon a day.
What Both Families Won: Passes to Six Flags for the ultimate thrill rides, including a chance to splash around in water (instead of focusing on drinking it). The Avaglianos got a season pass to the Six Flags Great Adventure near them in Jackson, New Jersey. The Lehmans won a weekend hotel stay and day passes to Six Flags St. Louis.
How have you started drinking more water? Share your success in the comments below.