I can’t believe it’s already February. How is everyone doing with their New Year’s resolutions (if you set them?) February 1 is a great day to reevaluate, to see if you set realistic goals, to see how you’ve been staying on track and if not, what steps you can take to stay on track.
If you need some healthy inspiration, you’ve clicked on the right blog post. Today is another one of my #livinginspiralized features, where I’m sharing What I Ate Today (err, yesterday, 1/31) and I’ll be talking about how I eat when I’m working out intensely.
What I Ate Today, January 31, 2017
I just received a shipment of Daily Harvest smoothies, which I’m obsessed with! I love them as snacks, as breakfasts (like today) or even as desserts. They have this Acai + Cherry (the “beautifier”) that’s INSANE. I also love the Avocado + Caco smoothie (tastes like a creamy chocolate milkshake), the Mint+ Cacao smoothie (tastes like Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream!) and the Carrot + Chia (tastes like carrot cake!)
If you want to try it out, you can get three FREE smoothies, just use code “inspiralized”. Order them here!
Since I was out of the office all day, and I had to stop at Whole Foods to pick up some veggies for a Facebook Live I was doing later in the afternoon, so I decided to treat myself to the food bar.
I got a lentil soup (amazing!) and just some random stuff that caught my eye at the salad bar: a boiled egg, a delicious lemon-cranberry quinoa salad, garlic broccoli, and some spinach with carrots and peas.
I’m a big dry cereal person – it’s my go-to snack, especially when I feel like I haven’t had enough carbs. I have a box of Nature’s Path Organics cereal in my pantry, so I had a mug-full of that. Random, but satisfied the craving – and a great source of fiber!
I made a big batch of my Vegetarian Quinoa and Bean Chili, topped with avocado! I love this dish, especially on a day like today when it’s so chilly and snowy out. Nothing better!
I had a banana with almond butter, but I forgot to take pictures!
How I Balance Healthy Eating with High Intensity Workouts
This is the question I’ll be answering today. If you have any questions you’d like to ask for upcoming Living Inspiralized features, send them my way.
I would love to know how to eat when you are working out so intensely. I find that when i up my workouts, I am STARVING. Do you count calories? Im wondering if I should spend more time focusing on clean foods, than calories.
Allyson, asked via the blog
This is a great question and a question that I receive a LOT, so I figured I would finally answer it!
Before I get to my personal advice, let me reiterate a very important point: everyone is different. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, everyone responds to exercise and food groups differently. This is what works for me, and I’m offering my advice based on my personal experiences. Just remember that as you read!
Here’s the thing. With exercise, you need to really decide why you’re exercising. Are you exercising to lose weight? To tone up? To maintain a weight loss? To get big muscles? To just feel healthy?
Based on why you’re exercising, you should eat differently. Body builders eat differently than those trying to lose weight. So, your exercise should complement your health goals.
For example, when I was first trying to lose the 30 pounds, I focused on slashing my daily calories, giving up sugar, and keeping my carbs lower than usual. My exercise was primarily cardio at first (for the first month or so) and then I started building in weight lifting to tone. I wanted to see quick results at first, and I knew that’s how my body would respond.
However, now, I’m focused entirely on toning and muscle definition. I eat more protein, more calories, and I eat more carbs. There’s no way I can do a 45 minute HIIT (high-intensity-interval-training) session without having had the proper fuel – a banana with almond butter on Ezekial toast, for example. When I was trying to lose weight, however, I would have never had that before a workout. Now, after my workout, I make sure to eat within 30 minutes and it’s something that’s higher in protein – like a protein dense meal or a smoothie with protein powder.
My biggest advice: DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL. Set mini-goals (ie month 1, I want to lose 5 pounds, month 2 I want to see definition in my arms). Based on those goals, adjust your diet. There’s no reason to keep the same diet – it should evolve as your fitness goals evolve.
If you’re doing high intensity workouts, don’t limit your calories – you NEED that fuel, especially because your metabolism is going to be revved for hours after, and you’re going to need something to help burn. However, make sure the calories you’re eating aren’t empty calories. The cardinal rule: always eat real, whole foods. Just eat the right ones for your fitness goals!
What I’d also recommend is fueling at night time. Drink a TON of water and fuel up properly. Don’t go to bed on an empty stomach and then expect to wake up and run 10 miles or crush weights. What will happen if you do this, is you’ll notice your strength with be less, your energy will be less, and you’re more likely to give up early on the workout or worse, injure yourself. And, you’re more likely to come home after a workout and binge eat, because your body is craving nutrients or your blood sugar has dropped!
This is my final advice for those trying to lose weight AND tone up: build in three days of cardio and 2 days of weight lifting/strength training. I like having a rest day to fall back on in case I’m exhausted from the week and the other day, I usually build in an extra light workout (or yoga now!) or I just do something fun and active, that’s not necessarily an “exercise day.” On the days that you are doing cardio, you don’t need as much fuel as you do on the strength training days, where you’re trying to build your muscles up. So, eat accordingly!
Most importantly, listen to your body. If you’re feeling light headed during a workout, that’s most likely because you didn’t eat enough or fuel properly, so stop, take a 5 minute break, fuel up (maybe have a half banana or a piece of a granola bar) and then continue your workout. I keep snacks in my gym bag for this purpose! When I’m feeling weak, I have a little break (hello, Snickers commercial) and then I get back to it!
And if you are curious what I eat on my high-intensity cardio days, I did a 45 minute spin class yesterday, and you can see what I ate above! I also ate completely plant-based, which tends to be heavier in carbs than say, a Paleo diet. Just keep that in mind! All of the carbs come from whole grains, which is most important.
I hope this helps some of you! And remember, I’m not a certified nutritionist or personal trainer, so all of this is based on my own personal experiences, so take it as you’d like!