When are carbs a woman's best friend? Before a workout, and especially when paired with protein. Myths abound that eating before a workout "undoes" all the physical activity. In reality, eating on an empty stomach could lead to a breakdown of muscle tissue that negatively impacts metabolism.
Kind of counterproductive, when you're trying to build muscle or burn fat.
So, back to carbs and protein: It's important to grab a snack before working out. Still, some foods will help you; others will hurt you. Nutritionists agree the following are some of the best foods to help fuel your workout.
Apple Wedges with Almond Butter
Stock up on vitamins, minerals and antioxidants: Eat an apple. If apples aren't filling enough, spread a tablespoon of almond butter on the slices.
Chicken Breast (or Tofu) and Brown Rice
Working out after dinner? Eat something that will sit well, provide you with usable fuel and have minimal fat. The complex carbs in brown rice will help sustain energy production, and chicken or tofu will provide protein for muscle repair after the workout. Brown rice may be substituted with sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole grains or starchy vegetables.
For the caffeinated out there, no worries. Caffeine has been shown to help regular drinkers enjoy a workout more by generating energy, slowing fatigue and increasing the rate of fat burn. Consider a cup of coffee or a couple shots of espresso.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, but the fat in egg yolks is metabolized slowly and will likely make you feel bloated and sluggish during your workout. A single egg white provides around 4 grams of protein and no fat.
Greek Yogurt and Trail Mix
Greek yogurt contains almost double the protein of normal yogurt—not to mention about half as much raw sugar. Pair it with trail mix to give your body the endurance it needs. Just make sure the trail mix is mostly nut and dried fruit: Leave out the fillers, such as chocolate, and remember a little bit goes a long way. Seeds and nuts are high in fat and take longer to digest. If you eat too may, you may feel sluggish.
Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit
Oats are packed with fiber. As such, oatmeal gradually releases sugar into your bloodstream to result in a steady supply of energy throughout your workout. Add some fruit to the bowl, and you increase the fluid content of your snack to keep you hydrated.
Smoothies are time-efficient, portable and effective. There are many ways to blend a smoothie, but make sure it's made from whey or milk-based proteins. A proven formula involves your favorite sliced fruit, a cup of Greek yogurt and some granola for thicker consistency.
Whole-Wheat Toast with Sliced Banana
When it comes to carbs, whole-wheat toast with fruit is the best of both worlds. The simple-carb fruit will kickstart your workout within the first 15 to 20 minutes, and the complex whole-wheat toast will keep you sustained throughout.
Banana is particularly prime for raising potassium levels, which drop when you sweat a lot. For a bit of extra flavor, sprinkle some cinnamon on top—the spice is linked to stabilizing blood sugar and improving brain function.
Courtesy of West Michigan Woman.