Is it necessary to have a pre-workout snack?

Before getting into the knitty - gritty on pre/post-workout snacks, first we need to determine what time of day you workout.  Is the pre-workout snack necessary?  Especially if you are trying to eat well and stop snacking habits?

A pre-workout snack is not usually necessary for a good workout.  But of course that depends on the time of day you exercise.  

If  at all possible you want to exercise when you have the most energy.  This could be the difference between burning 400 calories and 600 calories:
400 calories = I went through the motions of my workout
600 calories = I killed it during that workout

You can push yourself more if you have the energy.   For intense workouts, especially when you push that anaerobic phase (anaerobic = the bur-pee you are cursing at or the point you have a hard time breathing = the good stuff that increases your fitness level), your body depends on glycogen. Carbohydrates, refuel your glycogen stores.  These carbohydrates break down into smaller sugars after eaten and are used as energy.  What is not used, is stored in the muscles as glycogen, when the muscles are full, it gets stored as fat.
 
So how do you properly prepare your body for working out?  AKA pre-workout snack
First Thing in the Morning: You can go on an empty stomach, half an apple, banana or one cup of juice. (BTW I do not usually recommend juice since it can be a lot of empty calories, but it is just enough to amp up your glycogen storage for a tough workout).
Late Morning: After the kids are off to school and you have had breakfast, this is probably one of the best times for your body to workout.
Lunch: Well, this is a hard one.  More than likely you will have to schedule your lunch after your workout.  Try not to add an extra snack prior to the workout.
Late Afternoon: For all you moms that fall off the bandwagon about this time of day (I used to do it!), this could be the best time for you.  Just like late morning, it is one of the best times for your body to workout.  Your lunch is settled and glycogen stores are full of energy.  It also helps get rid of that afternoon slump.
Evening: For working moms, I recommend the evening workout before you pickup your kids (if this is possible), otherwise it just might not fit in your evening schedule.  For Stay-AT-Home-Mom’s (SAHM), I recommend the workout after you get the kids to bed; it will keep you on good behavior at dinner!
*Pregnant or Breastfeeding:  Make sure you eat a snack of protein and carbohydrates within the hour.  Some great snacks for example are: apple with peanut butter, milk and a slice of bread, yogurt and almonds.


So do you need a pre-workout snack?
Since glycogen is stored in the body, you are able to workout first thing in the morning.  And since most of us are not professional triathletes, our workouts can usually sustain the stored glycogen, theoretically.  But I will say, try it out.  See what works for you, your schedule and your energy.  And yes, there will be days that you have no energy no matter what and that is because you are a mom with 30 different jobs.

Ideally a pre-workout snack is adding extra calories that you normally would not have consumed.   But on the flipside if your energy is lacking halfway through your workout it could be because you are low on fuel.  My rule = 1 piece of fruit can go a long way.

Do you need a post-workout snack?
As a female, not usually, if your goal is weight loss.  Unless it is time for your 1-2 snacks per day.

9 comments:

  1. Will eat my lunch now. But prefer to work out because I can after my son goes to school and my 10 month old is asleep. Can not do any high intense workouts prior to bed and when I did work I worked out at lunch time. Nursing now and drinking a lot of water; limiting my seltzer to the evening and at dinner (mixed with a little cranberry juice)

    Sore with a smile. . . pulled my right calf again.

    I have been exercising since I had my first child 5 1/2 years ago on a pretty regular basis (strength + Pilates & Yoga) and kept up during my pregnancy with Baby 2 (weight gain 15 pounds). I would love to have my body back and know that I may need to wait a while until I stop nursing. I started my post-baby workouts with BootCamp2, Pilates and Yoga and started with the Lean Out and realized I was not ready (especially for the endurance parts); so I got the Weight Loss program (working on getting my knees up etc). Started and like the polymetric DVD: pulled my calf muscle again.

    I am an asthmatic, so my prior cardio adventures were fast paced walking with a stroller in NYC. Not going out as much but have time to do indoor workouts.

    My question is: How to prevent these calf injuries so I can stay intense and get my heart rate up to loss the inches.

    Tomorrow is yoga . . . then I start again with plyometric round for week 2.

    (Also would love to speak with someone about the diet aspects of the program. There was also mention of child portion sizes as I am trying to get smaller, my 5 year old looks thin).

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    1. You sound very dedicated:)

      I am unsure why the calf strain continues to happen. Is this an ongoing injury? Hip imbalance? Any more info would be very helpful in my helping you prevent it. Does the asthma hinder your workouts?

      Email Jess at themoms@momsintofitness.com and she can email you the Kids Nutrition pdf. Just let her know I asked you to email her:)

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  2. Thank you for your response.
    This is not an ongoing injury just started when I began to refocus my energies on exercising again. i.e. off the Boot Camp

    The only issue I can see is that I am not standing straight, so I have been trying to remember to suck in the gut and pull my shoulders back. At home, I also exercise with bare feet.

    For the past 4 days, I have down yoga and stretching etc. I tried today with my sneakers on to see what happens. The sneakers helped but still had the strain.

    The asthma does hinder my workouts, I am out of breath and do have to stop and start again using your DVDs. I try to "stop" by walking around the house but sometimes I need to really stop all together. (esp. with the lean out DVDs. The weight loss ones I have an easier time with it). Hence, all the walking I did (Prior to Baby 2, I did use the Elliptical Machine). My daughter is to young to keep out and about to walk places and be back for her nap. In NYC, it is impossible to get around with a stroller right know.

    Thanks

    Vanessa

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    1. Hey Vanessa! I am glad you are still at it! I do think the shoes could make all the difference. Do you have some rather new tennis shoes? If not, go to a place like Fleet Feet or the Running Store and get fitted - they can always see if you pronate or supinate your feet - which could be adding to the calf strain. Will you keep me posted?

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  3. workout first thing in the morning , i agree with you in this point , this is what i do daily ,
    thanks

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  4. I totally agreed with you. Workout is the best thing to start up your day. It helps you to remain active the whole day. It is the best way to keep your fitness optimum.

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  5. Do you have any diet suggestions for a new mom who is working a midnight shift? I am 11 weeks post partum, breast feed and pump - here is a sample of my "day": 8pm work out, pump at work, eat a meal, work behind a desk over night, snack throughtout the night, go home have a snack and nap when my son naps, eat when he eats and start the "day" over again. I am concerned that I am not getting enough or getting too many calories to loose weight. I eat oatmeal and a protien and hour before I work out and veggies and a protien an hour after I work out.

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    1. Veronica, hi! I think a food journal could really benefit your exact caloric intake. Can you download our app at www.momsintofitness.com/apps and fill out a food journal for a few days? Then email it to yourself > then email to themoms@momsintofitness.com.

      We will help you figure it out, promise!

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