What are the best foods to eat before and after a workout?
This is a common, but vital question because during strenuous exercises our muscles can become fatigued earlier if we do not have the proper nutrition, leading to bad form and potential injury. Ideally, before a strenuous workout, you should consume a meal rich in slow-digesting carbohydrates 1-2 hours before your workout (Bird & hay 1987; Williams & Chryssanthopoulos 1997).
This makes sense because it allows our muscles to have plenty of glycogen (energy production) which can become depleted, leading to muscle fatigue (Williams & Chryssanthopoulos 1997). Proper carbohydrates can include sweet potatoes, red potatoes, yams, whole grain rice, and oatmeal.
Immediately post-workout we want to consume fast-digesting muscle-building whey protein and eventually consume a meal high in proteins and carbohydrates one-hour post-workout to replenish the glycogen lost during exercise.
Bird SR, Hay S (1987) Pre-exercise food and heart rate during submaximal exercise. Br J Sports Med 21:27-28.
Williams C, Chryssanthopoulos C (1997) Pre-exercise food intake and performance. World Rev Nutr Diet 82:33-45.
I want to get toned, how?
Whether you are new to fitness or you’ve been around it for a while, you want to be toned. I’m guessing you are doing cardio to lose weight and eating better but I doubt you are doing strength training: big mistake.
To get that toned look you are going to need to do both weight training and cardio! Picture this; even if you lose body fat but have no muscle mass under the skin there is going to be nothing there to make you looked toned, it will just be flesh and bone! That is why resistance training is needed and can actually improve your body image quicker than cardio (Tucker & Mortell 1993). I’m not saying to stop cardio completely, but maybe just do a little less cardio and pick up the weights!
Tucker LA, Mortell R (1993) Comparison of the effects of walking and weight training programs on body image in middle-aged women: an experimental study. Am J Health Promotion 8:34-42? v
How much water should I drink a day?
Most of us don’t drink nearly enough water over the course of a day, considering it helps flush toxins from our body, provides us with healthier skin, lubricates joints and muscles, causes increased blood flow to the brain, and can actually delay the feeling of fatigue over the course of a day (Bowden 2007). So how much is enough?
We’ve all heard the eight glasses a day rule, but the method recommended by Dr. Jonny Bowden (C.N.S.) the author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth suggests to, “divide your body weight in two and drink that number of ounces a day.” That’s the rule I follow because it’s super easy to remember and works well for me.
Bowden J (2007) The 150 healthiest foods on Earth. Fair Winds Press. Beverly, MA.
How can I lose my love handles and belly pooch?
As you’ve just read in the above section in I want to get toned, how?, to get rid of your love handles you have to lose body fat from your entire body (cardio exercises and nutrition regime) which will, in turn, reveal your rectus abdominous (the abs)!
We also need to build the mass of the abs to help show them faster. To do this, you can do several abdominal exercises like hip lifts, crunches, or any abdominal machine that will increase the mass of the abs. Another culprit of the belly pooch could be excess sodium in your diet which in turn causes the body to retain water, most commonly around the mid-section. Ideally, you will want to consume around 1500mg of sodium (CDC recommendation), anything greater than that can cause water retention and hypertension (Karppanen & Mervaala 2006)!
Lastly, try to stay away from excess alcohol consumption (forget that last 6-pack of Smirnoff) because it is a relatively empty calorie (I do understand that it has beneficial anti-oxidants among other things) which can cause the body to store fat around the midsection: we don’t want a beer belly!
Karppanen H, Mervaala E (2006) Sodium intake and hypertension. Prog Cardio Dis 49:59-75.
How can I get rid of the excess fat on the underside of my arms (baggy arms)?
As stated earlier, a total decrease of body fat and an increase in muscle mass will help get rid of those baggy arms (Tucker & Mortell 1993). To help accomplish this implement 2-3 HIIT sessions into your exercise regime (HIIT Sessions) and clean up your nutrition regime by eliminating excess junk food and fats. Next start doing resistance training to build up those triceps (backside of the arm) which will also help build up your overall strength.
Some common resistance training exercises for the triceps include overhead tricep extensions, bent-over tricep extension, cable-crossover rope pulldown, or a tricep machine. Start by doing 3 exercises, 2-3 times a week and doing 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per exercise. Build it up (triceps) and break it down (fat) and you’ll get that toned look you want, stick to it!
Tucker LA, Mortell R (1993) Comparison of the effects of walking and weight training programs on body image in middle-aged women: an experimental study. Am J Health Promotion 8:34-42?
What’s a macro and how do I calculate them?
Macronutrients or macros are essential for life because they are used (or stored) for energy production. These include carbohydrates, protein, fats, and we can include fiber (PFT: Theory and Practice 2010). Sometimes people structure their healthy eating habits around these 4 groups by calculating how many grams of each they should consume per meal/day to lose, maintain, or gain weight.
To calculate our macros we can use the IIFYM calculator at If It Fits Your Macros. The calculator takes into account your body weight, height, age, activity level, and goals to give you the number of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, and total calories that you should consume per day. The beauty of a macro eating schedule is that it’s not a super structured, restricted diet but instead you eat whenever and whatever you want as long as your stick to these numbers.
For example, if your total daily fat consumption is 60g and you demolish a Big Mac (29g), you can only consume 31g fat for the rest of the day! Note: you should readjust your macros about every month to compensate for your changing body composition.
Personal fitness training: theory and practice, Second Edition (2010) Editors Yoke M, Gladwin LA. California, USA.