Dr. Ann Kulze talks about why it's important to refrain from eating immediately before exercise. Dr. Ann also covers post-workout foods.000a000a
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If the primary goal of your workout is weight loss, which that is the case for lots of Americans when you have a lot of Americans that need to lose weight, then it’s actually best to work out in a fasting state or in as more of a fasting state as you can. The reason is simple. In a fasting state, your stores of glucose in your body are at a low and glucose is the preferred fuel for your muscles and once your muscles have utilized all the glucose that is around, it switches over to burning energy—getting its energy from your fat stores. And the name of the game with weight loss is oxidizing a burning fat. You’re going to be much more apt to tap into your fat stores during a workout if you have not had food prior to. Optimally, eight hours prior to, that’s why I love for people to work out first thing in the morning, which is what I do. As soon as people say, “You know, I feel like I need something for energy,” and I say, “Well, you know what, have a cup of coffee.” You get this double bonus. Have a cup of coffee ideally without any sugar in it or any cream because there are no calories there but you get that nice boost of caffeine that gives you energy. Caffeine has been shown conclusively to enhance endurance, actually improve athletic performance. You feel very energized. You can work out harder without being aware of it. So again, this is what you want to do if you’re going to work out and maximize the chance you’re going to burn fat. Try to be in a relatively fasting state. You can’t fast eight hours prior to your workout or at least try to go three hours before. After your workout, one thing wonderful about working out is it gives you this temporary boost in your metabolism. So you want to take advantage of that and you want to eat, especially eat a meal after workout because your metabolic rate is higher and you’re more apt to burn those calories that you’re bringing in. And as far as the best foods to take in after workout as far as health and as far as enhancing training is going to be, you need some carbs. Why? Carbs are going to give you that glucose so you can replenish fuel, right, because you’ve just worked out. Your glucose levels are going to be low. We want to replenish those. You’ll feel good the rest of the day and have some energy. And what kind of carbs are the best? Carbs that provide your glucose at a slow, steady rate and also have lots of other nutrients and vitamins and minerals, so this is going to be again fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans are awesome. The other thing that’s very important post-workout nutritionally is to bring in some protein. People need to now that literally all of the positive adaptation that occurs as a result of training takes place after the training, so you become stronger as a result of exercise—actually after you exercise. So supposedly during your exercise, you get sort of—think of them as sort of in your muscle fibers like micro tears and it’s in the healing phase after you exercise that those muscles actually get stronger, get a little bit bigger, and it takes protein. And there’s about a two-hour window after you exercise where your body especially adapt at taking in those essential amino acids that you can get from protein and utilizing that to build muscles. So bring in some protein, lots of different ways to do it. I read a recent study. It was wonderful and I found that having a bowl of whole grain cereal with some skim milk was better than doing some of these protein powders and protein shakes that are sort of specifically marketing for enhancing muscle performance and boosting muscle growth. So again, make sure you get some protein. You need some carbs to replenish your glucose stores. It’s going to give you some energy. And don’t do too much fat. You can have some fat but again, saturated fats, trans-fats, bad fats are never good for you.