Try These Nutritious Breakfast Options to Energize Your Workout

Let’s face it, we really are what we eat. We’re all aware of how important it is to properly fuel our body for sustained energy throughout the day. A nutritious breakfast or first meal is critical to this way of thinking. Choosing healthy food options can do wonders for both our mind and body. When used optimally, meaning, food quantity and meal timing, food fuels our brain and muscles like nothing else. No meal is more important, however, than that first meal of the day. This is your first food option in the morning or at noon if you’re into intermittent fasting (IF). How you initially fuel your body after waking, from a fasted state, will set the tone for the rest of the day.

You may have been like me in the past where you were focused on consuming food every 3-4 hours. It may have been important to eat healthy and often to build lean muscle and/or maintain blood sugar levels. As the body ages, eating habits may, however, change. Some people have a tendency to change eating habits, spacing their meal frequency further apart. Not eating for longer periods of time (12+ hours) has been shown through research to be a positive change. The body uses a combination of macronutrients to fuel the brain (carbs) and body (carbohydrates, fats and some protein). Not eating for longer periods of time will adjust the ratio of how the body utilizes carbohydrates and fats for fuel. A higher percentage of stored fat (instead of more carbs) typically get used when doing IF.

What Are Macronutrients and Micronutrients?

Macronutrients are large molecules that our bodies need to function optimally. The big three are carbohydrates, fats and protein. Water and fiber are also considered macronutrients. Conversely, micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, are molecules that we need but in much smaller quantities. Both are very important and all are needed to help your human body function properly.

The authors actual breakfast this morning (you guessed it, oatmeal)

Nutritious Breakfast Options

Eating eggs or egg whites in the morning may be your thing. Maybe its cold cereal or a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana. All, other than the cold cereal, are healthy, nutritious breakfast options. A combination of macronutrients in a breakfast or snack are important to fuel the body for long periods of time. One key macronutrient is fiber. Many breakfast options, like cold cereal, have minimal or no fiber. Eating fiber helps with gut health, it keeps us feeling satiated and will help reduce the sugar and fat cravings.

A healthy, nutritious breakfast option to give a try is oatmeal. Where not talking instant oat meal out of a package either. Try the type that you cook on the stove (for 5-minutes). It’s loaded with all the macronutrients including fiber. You can add things like nuts and fruit that will increase total calories but also the amount of fiber and protein. The following is a calorie breakdown of a typical bowl of oatmeal that I typically eat. Following that, are additional add-ons like fruit and nuts.

Old Fashion Oats Calorie Breakdown

Food Calories/Macronutrients
1 Cup Oatmeal150 calories/27 grams CHO/4 grams Fiber/5 grams Protein
1 Cup Almond Milk40 calories/1.5 grams CHO/3.5 g Fat/1.5 g Protein
1/2 Cup Walnuts392 calories/8 grams CHO/39 grams Fat/4 grams Fiber/9 grams of Protein
1/2 Banana45 calories/11 grams CHO/1 gram Protein/6 grams natural sugar
1/2 Cup Blueberries41 calories/10.5 grams CHO/1.7 grams Fiber/0.54 grams Protein/7 grams natural sugar
TOTAL668 calories/58 grams CHO/9.7 grams Fiber/17 grams Protein

There is sugar in this breakfast option, yes, but it’s natural occurring sugar found in fruit, as opposed to added sugar. Most of the fat comes from the walnuts, this can be optional, keep in mind their a healthy source of fat. To add a little more protein, substitute the walnuts with almonds. The big takeaway though – it contains about 10 grams of healthy fiber and 17 grams of protein. Bonus, adding in a scoop of healthy peanut butter (like this morning) will bring that protein number to 24 grams. Eat healthy, fuel up for your day and workout with smart, nutritious food choices like the ones mentioned here.

A Second Quick Option

When you don’t have the time in the morning to cook your breakfast, try this quick nutritious breakfast option. All you need is a blender and a few ingredients. Add 1-2 cups of almond milk, a scoop of whey protein powder, a banana or other fruit, nuts and sprinkle in some cinnamon and turmeric. This is a perfect high protein drink that will help you start your day off right. It also works as a pre/post workout option. You can go crazy and add the oatmeal to the mix.

Use the Jefit App

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC Magazine, Men’s Health, The Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle. Stay strong with Jefit!

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5 Things to Eat Before and After a Workout and Why

What to Eat Before and After a Workout

Wondering what to eat before and after a workout? What you munch on can make a difference in your performance and how you feel. This is because there are certain foods that can help maximize your efforts to help make each training session a great training session. Here, we tell you what to eat before and after a workout, so you can reap the benefits every single time.

What to Eat Before and After a Workout: The Best Foods

Before a workout

There are some people who train fasted. People who train fasted might be those doing intermittent fasting, who exercise early in the morning or simply prefer to workout on an empty stomach. Then there are those who need to eat something before a workout. Eating prior to a workout can give you the energy you need to make it all the way to the very end. Like we mentioned before, there are some foods that can give you better benefits than others.

Avoid Fat

While healthy fats are beneficial to your health, before a workout is not the best time to consume them. They are slow-digesting, meaning that instead of giving you the energy to pump you up before and during your session, it can instead make you feel sluggish (which is the last thing you want to feel while training).

So limit your fat intake, especially if you are doing high-intensity workouts. But if you do need to eat some healthy fats, then it is best to save it for low-moderate intensity exercises.

Focus on Protein

Because you want to focus on losing fat and not muscle, protein is really important. It will assist in preventing muscle catabolism, which is the break down of muscle tissue. In addition, it will also aid in recovery and growth. So make sure that protein is on your meal list as an integral part of each meal.

Focus on Carbs

Carbs are also an important macronutrient to consume prior to a workout. However, the type of carbs you should eat depends on how soon after eating you plan to workout. If you are training 2-3 hours after your meal, then complex carbs are great. If it is anytime less, then simple carbs are the way to go.

What to Eat 2-3 Hours Before a Workout

Consume a source of lean protein with vegetables and brown rice. It’s a classic dish for a reason—it has a great balance of vegetables, protein, and complex carbs. Complex carbs release energy slowly so by the time you train, your body will be ready. Another great meal idea is a veggie omelette with a side of protein on whole grain toast.

What to Eat 1-2 Hours Before a Workout

Protein smoothie with fruit and veggies. Now is the great time to have that protein shake. To amp it up, add some fruit such as a banana or berries, as well as some greens. A handful of spinach, kale, or celery can help you fit in a serving of vegetables.

Oats. Get some carbs in with healthy oats, and add in some protein by mixing in protein powder. This is a versatile dish that you can mix up by changing the flavor of your protein powder. Also, you can include some honey to sweeten it up. This meal will give you slow-releasing energy that will keep you satiated throughout your workout.

What to Eat 30 Minutes – 1 Hour Before a Workout

Now is the time for simple carbs. They are great for 30-minute windows because they break down fast, meaning you will feel energized faster.

Banana. This is a favorite pre-workout snack. It is easy and convenient. It is made up of simple carbs, natural sugars and potassium. However, this is only stored in the body for a limited amount of time so only eat it when you are about to workout soon. Add some peanut or almond butter for some added protein.

Rice cake with peanut/nut butter. A great balance of carbs and protein. Also, it is pretty delicious!

Water

Make sure you drink before you even start exercising. This will keep your body fluids up, which is important as you will lose water through sweating. If you are exercising in the afternoon or night, then make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.

After a Workout

It is critical that you eat after a workout to replenish the depleted glycogen stores you used during exercise. This will also help speed up the muscle recovery process. For optimal results, try to eat within 30-minutes to 1 hour of exercising.

Again, focus on protein and complex carbs. The protein will help with your muscles in recovery while also assisting in rebuilding new muscles. Carbs will replenish glycogen stores.

Some Meal Ideas

Protein Shake. A protein shake isn’t required after a workout but the reason why you may see people filling up those shakes post-workout is that it is a convenient way to quickly get that protein in. Choose your favorite flavor and try to mix in some fruit for some carbs like a banana or some berries.

Protein, vegetables and rice. If you are still confused on what to eat before and after a workout, you can never go wrong with this dish. This meal works just as well post-workout as it does pre-workout. It has a great balance of the important things you need to refuel your body. For a veggie option, try black beans as it is a great mix of carbs and protein as well.

Greek yogurt, berries and granola. Choose Greek yogurt over regular yogurt as it has more protein. The berries are micronutrients which can aid in muscle recovery, with a side of carbs in the form of granola. Delicious!

Chicken sandwich on whole grain toast with a side of salad/vegetables. Don’t like chicken? Swap it for beef, turkey, or even tofu and beans. This is a great mix of carbs, protein, and your greens.

Pita Bread and Hummus. Dip some yummy pita bread into hummus for a great carb/protein balanced meal. It’s a great vegetarian option for those who follow a meat-free diet.

Other Key Points

Now you know what to eat before and after a workout, don’t forget to stay hydrated. Water plays a vital role in your body—whether it is before or after training. So drink up!

A simple way to remember what to eat before and after a workout, just remember your protein, carbs, and vegetables. That should give you a good balance of the important nutrients and minerals you need.

Track Your Progress with Jefit

Jefit is a workout log app that comes with a customizable workout planner, schedule, and exercise routines. It also comes with like-minded people who can help you decide what to eat before and after a workout, share training tips, advice, and wins. Use the Jefit app to get on track with your fitness goals, and join our members-only Facebook page here!

What to Eat Before and After a Workout

Know the Difference Between Added Sugar and Sugar Alcohols?

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Poor nutrition, as in eating too much added sugar, can easily ruin all the hard work someone puts in at the gym. Sugar is in just about everything we eat and drink. For instance, take a look at the food labels on those protein bars and protein drinks. Heck, read the labels on the different sports drinks while you’re at it. Gatorade has added sugar, it’s just in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Many of these foods and drinks contain so much added sugar and sugar alcohol they could found in the candy isle…seriously. According to JAMA Internal Medicine, sugar-sweetened drinks are the single largest source of added sugar (37 percent) in the American diet.

Does Eating Too Much Fruit Mean I’m Eating Too Much Sugar?

To begin with, fruit does contain sugar but its natural. The source of sugar found in fruit is fructose. As mentioned, fruit contains natural sugar as opposed to added sugar or sugar alcohols. One key ingredient found in fruit is fiber. Basically, fiber slows down the speed of glucose entering into the blood stream. As a result, it won’t raise blood sugar level quickly. When you eat a candy bar, though, which has no fiber and is loaded with added sugar, your glucose level will spike. In fact, the body releases insulin from the pancreas to bring down the glucose level. “The amount of insulin released usually matches the amount of glucose present.” This is important to understand. If this happens often throughout the day, there is a high probability that the body will begin storing more body fat as a direct result.

Many people consume a high percentage of sugar (carbohydrates) over three meals during their waking hours. When this happens, they end up with the scenario mentioned above. Now that you have a better understanding on fruit and natural sugar, let’s look at the differences between added sugar and sugar alcohols.

Added Sugar

Added sugar is in 74 percent of all packaged foods. Think about that for a moment. In order to make foods low fat, many of the food companies replace added fat with added sugar. Americans currently eat about 76 pounds of different forms of sugars each year. Even though we have seen a 15 percent decrease in added sugar consumption since 1999, according to government data, the typical person still eats about 94 grams (or 375 calories) on a daily basis (U.S. Department of Agriculture). Lastly, Dr. Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance, and his colleagues, have shown through their research that every additional 150 calories (38 grams) of added sugar consumed above daily requirements, was associated with a 1.1 percent increase risk of type 2 diabetes.

Sugar Alcohols

Added sugar and sugar alcohols are carbohydrates but with slightly different chemical makeups. Sugar alcohols are considered less sweet and contain fewer calories than sugar; they also affect blood sugar levels less significantly. They are also known as polyols, which are ingredients used as sweeteners and sugar replacers. If you have diabetes you want to stay clear of sugars and lean towards sugar alcohols …if you must. Keep in mind they may also cause bloating and an upset stomach in some people. Best advice, stay clear of all three forms of sugar.

Read Food Labels When it Comes to Protein Bars, Sports Drinks and Protein Shakes

So, the next time you want to order your favorite box of protein bars on Amazon or get a protein or sports drink at the gym, read the food label first. If either has more than a few grams of added sugar, then avoid it. The goal should be 0 grams of added sugar. Many of the bars say they contain zero or <1 gram of added sugar but don’t be fooled. Added sugar likes to hide its toxic self under more than 60 different names like the HFCS mentioned above found in Gatorade. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the total grams of added sugar consumed over a day can add up fast. A candy bar and a Coke has more than 75 grams of added sugar. Men should consume about 38 grams/day while women need about 25 grams/day.

One study showed subjects who got 17-21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8% of their calories from added sugar. The risk more than double for those who consumed 21% or more of their calories from added sugar (D’Adamo, 2015).

Bottom line, any form of sugar, other than what’s found in fruit, is potentially harmful to your body. In addition, eating too much sugar will zap your energy level which you’ll need during workout time. One thing that really loves added sugar is body fat. If you want a lean, hard body, reduce the amount of sugar you eat! If that’s not enough – read the quote above one more time. Stay strong!

References

Berardi, J., et al., The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, Precision Nutrition, 2017.

D’Adamo P.J., The Many Consequences of Sugar Imbalance, 2015.

Additional Reading on the Topic

Shanahan C., Deep Nutrition (2nd Ed.), 2017.

Taubes G., The Case Against Sugar, 2016.

Fitzgerald M., Diet Cults, 2015

Ludwig D., Always Hungry?, 2016.

Freedhoff Y., The Diet Fix, 2014.

Duffy W., Sugar Blues, 1986.

Lustig, R., Fat Chance, 2012.

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