Whether you workout moderately, or you’re very serious about your fitness here are a few tips to help you get more out of your workout.
Workout Tip #1: Try to Workout on an Empty Stomach
In a study published online in the British Journal of Nutrition*, researchers wanted to assess whether fat burning would be better if the workout occurred during a “fasted” state, or following a meal.
Led by Dr Emma Stevenson and PhD student Javier Gonzalez, the research team took twelve male participants and asked them to exercise on a treadmill at 10am. One group had eaten breakfast, the other group was in a fasted state, having not eaten since the evening before. The results were pretty amazing: the men who had exercised in a fasted state burned almost 20% more fat compared to those who had consumed breakfast before their workout.
I feel like I’ve intuitively known this for a while. Whether I do yoga, or I’m doing a rigorous hike (the mountain where I often go near my house in LA is very steep) —I prefer to do it without food in my belly. If it’s later in the day, I obviously won’t have fasted the whole day but my preference is to have lighter foods like fruit and Glowing Green Smoothie prior to the workout, so that my body isn’t “digesting”during exercise and it still feels like fasted cardio and I’m light as a feather during the workout!
Of course, I realize that if you’re running a marathon or some other form of super-endurance challenge, fasting before probably isn’t an option and you may need more calories prior to exercise. Still, I would recommend lighter, more easily digested foods over heavy items so that you’re not digesting a lot while working out.
Workout Tip #2: Get Proper Post Workout Nutrition
In general, there are three purposes to what you eat after a workout. You want to:
-Replenish your energy by replacing glycogen
-Reduce muscle breakdown with protein
-Repair any damage and increase protein synthesis
This sounds scientific and difficult, but in reality it’s pretty simple and natural. When you have proper post-workout nutrition, you’ll find that you recover faster, have less soreness, make progress faster, and even burn more fat.
Because exercise increases your circulation, and due to other factors, there is something called the “window of opportunity”where your body is more receptive to nutrients that can aid in the recovery and rebuilding process. Thus, the optimum time to get post-workout nutrition is within two hours of exercise, and ideally as soon as possible.
Typically, you need two main things. Carbohydrates to replace the cellular glycogen you burned through —and protein/amino acids to aid the rebuilding process. Keep in mind, though, that we’re talking about workouts that are of medium-to-high intensity and last 30-45 minutes. Shorter or less vigorous workouts don’t require special post workout nutrition emphasis. In those cases, just eat as you normally would.
So what does post-workout nutrition look like on the Beauty Detox plan? Well, it’s pretty simple: There are plenty of ways to get carbs. Bananas (more about them in just a moment!) are easily digested and rich in carbohydrates. They also contain some amino acids that can help in repair, though if your workout is especially intense you may want to consider a vegan protein powder (non-GMO rice or pea proteins can be great!), such as the Garden of Life brand, which contains certified non-GMO.
So let’s explore a couple possible post-workout meal options:
Option #1: Beauty Drink
This one is really simple. Just blend coconut water with spiraling powder and add stevia as needed, to sweeten. And drink! Coconut water is packed with potassium and electrolytes and also helps build tone when you are doing strength-based activities, like practicing Hatha Raja yoga, etc. Spirulina is 67% green algae protein, and it also contains Omega 3 fatty acids, all the essential amino acids, Vitamin B12, over 2000 enzymes, and lots of iron and magnesium! Spirulina may be an acquired taste for some, but it’s worth trying out and getting used to (if you can!). It’s filled with nutrition and is not only great post-workout, but is super beautifying and alkalizing.
Option #2: Protein Power Smoothie
This is a super-filling smoothie that is great after a workout to help replenish amino acids, or as an afternoon snack. I think chia seeds are one of the most powerful foods available, and I eat them almost daily. They have replaced ground flaxseeds as my daily seed. Chia seeds supply protein, fiber, Omega 3 fats, minerals and long-burning fuel.
I don’t recommend soy or whey (diary) protein powders, but I love brown rice and raw hemp protein powders. This smoothie supplies 18+ grams (maybe more, depending on what protein powder you use) of easily assimilated plant protein into your body.
Option #3: Glowing Green Smoothie
The Glowing Green Smoothie (#GGS) is an amazing post workout meal for several reasons. First, it contains one or more servings of fruit, which gives you healthy carbs that replace your glycogen lost during exercise.
Second, the greens are an amazing source of nutrients and protein that aid the rebuilding process. Just one GGS smoothie brings tremendous amounts of greens into your diet, and in a much more easily digested form than with a salad. For instance, a serving of the GGS contains over 3 cups of dark leafy green vegetables, which is more than many people get in a week! For my recipe click here.
Option #4: Banana Protein Shake
This is really simple. All you do is take almond or hemp milk, ideally an organic brand from your local market and blend with 1-2 frozen bananas and a vegan protein. Again, I like hemp protein, pea protein or non-GMO rice protein, and all of them combine excellently with bananas and the almond milk. It might look like this:
16 oz of almond milk
2 frozen bananas
1 scoop vegan protein
Blend and serve!
Now, let’s cover our final workout tip…
Workout Tip #3: Build Breath Awareness
As I mentioned, my workouts typically consist of either yoga (which can be intense, depending on the class or my home practice for that day) or something outdoors, like hiking or biking. One thing I generally don’t do is push myself to the point of being incredibly out of breath, because I feel like that can be stressful on your body. It may lead to weight loss, but it can also accelerate aging if you’re not careful.
Why? Because there are some who believe that “mouth breathing” is actually “adrenal breathing” meaning, as you are out of breath and inhaling through your mouth, you enter a fight-or-flight state and your adrenal glands are activated. This can lead to a sense of stress or anxiety and it’s my opinion that many people develop negative associations with working out because of the unpleasant feeling of this state.
Still, I realize that many forms of intense exercise are designed to push you to the point where you have no choice but to breath intensely, and so I wanted to give you a tip for minimizing any negative that might come from all that huffing and puffing.
The tip is simple: Whenever you notice yourself losing control of your breath and inhaling through your mouth, make a conscious effort to slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. I realize this can be hard during something like Crossfit or other intense training, but it’s possible. And when you do successfully tune into your breath and guide it, you’ll find that you don’t feel as anxious and your mind becomes more sharp and alert during the workout.
The great thing about yoga is that you can practice and train your breathing at a very deep level, so that when you do other forms of exercise you have much more control over your breath. It’s a fantastic way to manage stress levels, build body awareness, increase clarity and overall performance during your workout.
1. Javier T. Gonzalez, Rachel C. Veasey, Penny L. S. Rumbold, Emma J. Stevenson. Breakfast and exercise contingently affect postprandial metabolism and energy balance in physically active males. British Journal of Nutrition, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0007114512005582