• Are Carbohydrates The Best Fuel For A Workout?

    foods to eat when working out-- hilliard group fitness

    I’d only 2 of these, and would only recommend 5 out of the 10. Can you guess which ones? Read on for more life and fat changing!


    This post was fueled by an email that I have had in for a while now. About once a year I go back and edit them, and I felt this one especially needed a post to point the changes that I have gone through both with my food and nutrition philosophy. 
    Everything in the post below is from the email. All of the original email will be in black, and then all the stuff that I am writing today will be in GREEN or some other color cause I can’t see green because I keep Iris on my computer at the zero blue light setting all day 😉 And so should you. 

    How’s it going? Just wanted to share with you some insight of mine on pre-workout nutrition. Yes again. It’s very important. Fuel your fire, fuel you intensity, fuel your workout!

    –Everybody probably knows what the #1 most important meal of the day is. It’s breakfast. That fact has been drilled into us since we were little. It sets your body’s tone and metabolism for the day. Fat loss is virtually impossible with out it.


    —–This is true if you are eating a high carbohydrate diet (over 300 grams) because your body will quickly run out of ‘fuel’ or energy, better known as stored carbohydrate which is glycogen. And if you are a carb eater you usually wake up crungry– Cranky and Hungry.

    ——– When you are eating a lower carb diet or the ketogenic diet like I have been since July 2014 you don’t wake up Crungry and I routinely skip breakfast when teaching early morning fitness classes (515 or 6 am–which I don’t do anymore, first class is at 9 am because I WILL NEVER MISS THE SUNRISE) simply because I’m not hungry– my body is fueled by my fat. It’s a nice feeling to know that my body is eating the stuff I want to get rid of 😎 

    fat for fuel- Improvement warrior fitness and nutrition
    Problem is a lot of people don’t know about this little fat loss secret I’m about to share with you. What you eat before a workout is one of the most important things you can do during the day for ultimate fat loss. Without a solid pre-workout nutrition regiment your post-workout meal will be a lot less effective.

    The questions I get asked the most are ‘what’ and when’ to eat this meal. First off let’s talk about why you need to be eating this meal.

    The pre-workout meal ensures that you will have adequate nutrition to make it through your workout. You should concentrate on getting fuel into your body. And the body’s best fuel source is carbohydrates. Most importantly you want to concentrate on complex or fibrous carbs, which are the carbs that give you sustained energy. What you are doing with these carbs is making sure that your glycogen levels (stored carbohydrates) are full, because when you workout your body pulls the carbs out of glycogen storage to be used as energy. So if you your levels are depleted, like when you wake up in the morning, and you skip the pre-workout meal then you have no glycogen to pull out. So the body will resort to pulling lean muscle tissue off your muscles to fuel the workout, which results in less muscle mass, decreased metabolism, and increased fat gain.

    —-Again the pre-workout meal is very important if you are a carb-eater. I’m sure if you are you have experienced crashes either just simply during the day or even during a workout. When carbs are lowered you don’t rely as much on glycogen, there is some still there, but you rely on fat as your energy. And on a ketogenic diet the body relies more on something called ketones. Ketones are the bodies number 1 fuel source. Not glucose, like a lot of nutritionist’s would want you to believe. I used to preach the same thing that the brain needs a minimum of 120 grams of carbs to function properly (and I recently heard a podcast saying that very thing last week). The thing is the brain can use ketones much more efficiently then it can glucose, and without the brain fog and high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels deserves an article all to itself, and probably actually a book.

    —-I routinely eat my ‘pre-workout’ meal 2-4 hours before my workout. When I was a carb burner it would be usually under an hour, sometimes up to 90 minutes, but usually it was under a 1/2 hour. I usually stuck to the 1/2 hour because then I could get more ‘meals’ in my body which at the time I believed would stoke my metabolism even higher and let me burn even more fat, but what I didn’t know was that I was actually storing more fat and raising my blood sugar levels– and keeping them raised through out the day.

    —- Right now (October-November 2014) I’m doing ketogenic 5-6 days a week and then Paleo type of diet the other days. In reality it’s more like 95% ketogenic meals and just 5% paleo meals.
    —- I really only recommend you eat non-veggie type carbs only 2 times throughout the day. Those are:
    • Pre-workout (I realize this will be breakfast and pre-workout for some people)
    • Post-workout

    —I used to say breakfast, but high fat and moderate protein will fuel your day much better then a bowl of oatmeal ever can and longer.

    All other times I recommend just sticking with fibrous veggies and fruits WHEN IN SEASON and as local as possible.This will be the best for fat loss and raising your metabolism. But carbs ONLY when you are no longer LEPTIN RESISTANT- watch the leptin webinars here. 
    You also need to get a lean source of protein with your pre-workout meal/snack. Protein should be consumed with every meal/snack regardless, to keep the protein (amino acid) stores up.
    —-Lean and mean right? Protein leanness will need to vary depending on when your pre-workout meal is and when you plan on working out. If you’re working out in 45 minutes or less, then I would recommend a liquid form of protein like a whey, that way you ensure it gets digested. Whole food protein sources should not be consumed if you’re working out in under 45 minutes– you don’t want your body to be digesting something while working out.
    If you have an hour or more then you can eat something more hearty. For me doing nutritional ketosis or the keto diet I don’t have a pre-workout regular meal any more. It’s just what I ate last. My typical go to meal is usually 3 eggs (or 3 egg yolks and one full egg– YES That is right, I sometimes throw the white away) cooked in 1-3 tablespoons of a cooking oil (go to is coconut oil, lard, ghee, tallow, or grass fed butter) with some stir fried veggies (Go to is usually kale, spinach, cabbage, bok choy, mushrooms– or a combo of all) and some added spices.
    —-Make sure veggies and fruit is always in-season. The only ones I break this rule on is onions, seaweed, avocado, carrot (just once a week) and mushrooms (not a veggie though). I no longer eat kale or spinach as both of these are on the dirty dozen list. I would only eat it if I personally grew it in my garden. 
    The protein source doesn’t have to be lean. Fat is our most important nutrient and it is protein sparring, so you don’t need to eat as much protein.  In the example above my macro’s usually break down to around 50-70 grams of fat, under 18 grams protein, and under 5 grams of carbs (with most of that being fiber). And fat fills you up better then any other nutrient.
    Protein Recommendations: Jocko Mölk Whey Protein


    If you workout on an empty stomach your body doesn’t have any energy. You can’t give 100% intensity, and if you do you will most likely feel sick, light-headed, and nauseous. You will reach fatigue a lot quicker also. Some people can do it, but in my opinion it’s because they haven’t adopted their body to it. A lot of people who have never eaten before a workout before and then they do they feel full or nauseous. Maybe it was the wrong types of foods, not enough time given to digest, or the body is not used to it yet. If you only do something a few times you never get good at anything, same thing with your body. It needs to adopt

    —When following a low carb, high fat or keto diet, or even low carb Paleo, you can workout on an empty stomach. Because your body is being fueled  by ketones, that is it is using fatty acids as it’s fuel source rather then glucose or glycogen the stored form of carbs. 


    When to eat:

    When to eat this meal ideally would be at least 60 minutes before hand. And about 60-90 minutes is a good time range. This will give the body enough time to digest the meal and give the body a full dose of energy for the workout. If this is not possible, as in an early morning workout then 20-30 minutes should suffice, but the meal should be a lot lighter. Early morning workouts are ideal for a meal replacement shake, especially if you have trouble eating so early. And you can even drink it throughout the workout for sustained energy and possibly even a second wind.

    — Circadian Nutrition 101- Sun out = Kitchen Open. Sun Down = Kitchen Closed

    Now to the part you probably care, and want to know the most about–what to eat. The best carbohydrate source to eat before a workout would be oatmeal in water or almond/coconut milk, or some added whey protein. Although since switching to Paleo I no longer eat oatmeal beforehand, it’s usually a sweet potato or some kind of fruit. Plus oatmeal usually contains gluten, which I recommend everybody stays away from even if you are not gluten sensitive. I know oats are technically a gluten free food, but the majority of oats are processed in factories that get cross contaminated with other gluten containing products. Do your research if you want to eat oats and stay away from gluten. Oats also do one other thing that I don’t like, or actually two— raise your blood sugar levels, and make you fat. Yes I said it! Oatmeal makes you fat. You see when you wake up, pretty much everybody is in some form of ‘ketosis’, meaning that they are using ketones or fatty acids as energy. but as soon as you consume carbs especially non-veggie type, those fatty acids get pushed into your fat cells by insulin which then turns into triglycerides, and makes the fat cells bigger or fatter. Insulin and triglycerides you want to keep low low low. Carbs and too high of a protein intake can trigger both to go up. It supplies long lasting energy and is a good source of protein. Other things you could consider would be   a nut butter sandwich on gluten and grain free bread (or just nut butter- 3-4 tbsp of almond butter and I’m ready to go), fruit, vegetables, sweet or regular potatoes, and energy bars. But be careful with the bars, I only really recommend a couple of them, otherwise it is just eating a bunch of chemicals. We routinely make our own bread now with almond, walnut, pecan, cashew or coconut flour, but if you must have bread try a hemp seed or other type of seed bread, just make sure it doesn’t have any grains or wheat in it.My wife gets a grain free bread from Target that she and my kids love.

    columbus nutritionist- low carb high fat

    Got questions or concerns? Leave a comment down below. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends on social media by clicking the share buttons on the upper left. 

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