Tag Archives: Exercise Tips

Energy Boosting Pre-Workout Snacks

Maybe you have heard some strange things about the athletes’ eating habits at this year’s Rio Olympics. You may have heard that the only MacDonald’s in the Olympic Village is doing unprecedented business with sales of fries, Big Macs and McNuggets going through the roof. Perhaps you’ve gotten wind of Australia’s badminton Olympian, Sawan Serasinghe, whose late night binge included over twenty items, causing Mickey D’s to put a 20 item limit on all orders. Or maybe you’ve heard about Ryan Lochte’s Friday night 8,000 calorie habit replete with wings, pizza and soda.

Well, while this may seem like a ton of fun, you should know that these athletes require a whole lot more calories than the average person, and that, if you ate only a quarter of what they did, you would probably be morbidly obese. So before you start downing those super sized -meals, here are some more realistic choices.

1. Honey
Recent research shows that carbs that blend fructose with glucose may be better than straight glucose for increasing energy. Although sports drinks may satisfy this description, honey has the perfect fructose- sugar balance with the added benefits of antioxidants. The darker the color of the honey, the better it will be in fighting disease.

Woman drinking chocolate milk

2. Chocolate milk
According to a 2006 study, chocolate milk is the new sports drink! In a study funded by the dairy industry , nine cyclists rode their bikes to the point of exhaustion, rested for a four hour period and then resumed biking. During the period in which they rested, they were given either Gatorade, an electrolyte replacement drink, Endurox, a carbohydrate replacement drink, or low fat chocolate milk. Results showed that the cyclists who drank the chocolate milk could bike about 50 % longer than those who consumed the sports drink. Ovaltine, anyone?

3. Yogurt
Exercise can also affect your immune system and athletes sometimes display greater susceptibility to infections of the upper respiratory tract, Probiotics, found in yogurt, may reduce the likelihood of contracting these infections. According to a 2008 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, endurance athletes who took daily probiotic capsules demonstrated greater activity of immune enhancing T-cells, cutting the likelihood of experiencing such infections by half. Probiotics can also soothe a nervous stomach, while providing a mix of proteins and carbs, great for just before a big race.

Eating Fruit
4. Fruit with A Mozzarella Stick
Who doesn’t love a good mozzarella? According to personal trainer and certified nutritionist, Mary Jane Detroyer, your body need carbohydrates, rather than protein, to perform physical activity. “You need to have something that’s going to get into the bloodstream and stay there throughout the workout. So you wouldn’t want to have a lot of fat or too much protein or too much fiber because those things slow the way the food is absorbed. She recommends fruit, “it doesn’t matter what kind of fruit it is. And you could have a few nuts with that.”

5. Crackers with a little hummus or hummus with veggies and an apple
Detroyer suggests a quarter cup of hummus, which she recommends because the beans in it offer fiber. “It’s going to give you some energy that will stick throughout the workout. Carbs form the veggies and fruit will contribute to the boost.”

And you? Do you subscribe to the healthy pre-exercise snacks or do you swear by the energy of the Big Mac? Let us know what works best for you and if you have some great advice about foods that give you energy, we’d love to add them to our list.

Brains, Bones & Brawn

Boxing

Why do so many people hate doing cardio?  It has been called monotonous; actor Stephen Moyer even said, “Cardiovascular is the devil.”  So what’s the deal with cardiovascular exercise?  If so many people hate doing it, why should we?  Maybe we should stick to toning.  Well, before you throw your Nikes in the trash, read this article.  Cardiovascular exercise is one of the most powerful ways of beating the clock and keeping your brain sharp.

Need proof? According to the Journals of Gerontology, a study was conducted in 2006 involving 59 participants between the ages of 60 and 79.  The group was split in half.  For six months, one-half of the group did cardiovascular exercise while the others did stretching and toning and guess what they found out?  The half that did the cardiovascular showed a significant increase in brain volume in both gray and white matter, while the half that did the toning and stretching showed no increase.  Shocking, isn’t it?  Although toning is not without its rewards, it was concluded from the study that cardiovascular exercise actually spares brain tissue and improves cognitive functioning.

Still not convinced? Physical therapist and fitness expert Maureen Hagan says, “Fitness is a youth serum.” U.S. guidelines suggest the average person get 150 minutes of cardio per week, but Hagan’s research suggests that 240 minutes is best for optimal heart health.

(Yeah, that’s 4 hrs. – sorry)  But, just think, aerobic exercise increases the mitochondrial function, associated with energy production, which can decrease with age.(No kidding!)

So, now that you have resigned yourself to the fact that cardio is necessary, you will need to pick your poison. According to Hagan, memorizing choreographed dance steps involves working your brain as well as your body. Consider kickboxing, dancing, or rumba for those.  And be sure to keep those arms and legs in motion.  Hagan says that crossing your legs and arms over the middle of your body actually increases communication between the right and left brain hemispheres and  prevents lapses in short term memory!

“But”, you say in a final attempt at denial, “I heard that high impact workouts can be harmful.”  Well, you are not wrong.  Cardio can be dangerous to muscles, ligaments and cartilage, whereas toning will  actually protect bones from impact and increase bone density, while reducing the risk of osteoporosis.  Toning will also preserve muscle mass as you age and improve flexibility, stability and balance and strong bones. An added bonus:  by  improving your balance, you reduce your risk of falling.  Imagine that: not only will you decrease your chance of falling, but you also increase your chance of coming out of the fall in one piece!  No wonder toning is also credited with building confidence! Good examples of toning exercises include dumbbell reps, squats and pilates.

In conclusion, to lose body fat, it takes three things : cardio, strength training, and a low-calorie diet. So, get that heart pumping and keep that back straight and keep those muscles toned, and, the next time you are running on your treadmill or doing those reps and wishing you were doing anything else but, just remember,  you are doing yourself a world of good, so keep it up and we salute you!