3 Workout Tips + My 8 Favorite Workout Foods!
In case you’re wondering where in the world I happen to be right now, it’s in lovely Greece. I’m writing to you as I gaze over the caldera (volcano) of Santorini. I am here this week, then back to my European root of London next week. I am going to write more on my experiences here (and Amsterdam) soon! But first…
I get a LOT of questions about how I workout, and whether it’s possible to have a intense workout/fitness regimen and still eat the Beauty Detox way.
The answer is, of course – “ absolutely yes!”
In today’s post, I will address some of the most important questions I’ve received on this subject, and give you some tips and foods I’ve found to be helpful. These will be beneficial whether you workout moderately, or you’re very serious about your fitness and training.
Let’s get started!
3 Tips for Proper Workout Eating and Nutrition
Workout Tip #1: Try to Workout on an Empty Stomach
In a study published online in the British Journal of Nutrition on January 24, 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. This could very well mean that exercising
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 to 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 (may be 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 that 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!
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
This can serve two people, or one person if you’ve had a really hard workout and need more calories and nutrients to replace.
Bananas are a low water-containing fruit (you can’t juice a banana), and take longer to digest than other fruits. Therefore, they combine well with raw, plant-based protein powders.
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.
9 Workout Foods I Can’t Live Without!
1 – Bananas
Bananas are high in potassium (about 600 mg per medium banana), which is an important mineral and electrolyte necessary for muscular function and digestion. Potassium also helps balance the effects of sodium on your body. As other natural plant foods, bananas contain fiber (3 grams in a medium-sized one). Bananas also contain vitamins A, B, E, K and C as well as 6 mcg of folic acid, which is essential for red blood cell formation. All of this comes in a tasty package that has about 105 calories with 0 grams of fat.
Bananas fell into disfavor with many people during the rise of low-carbohydrate diets. Because of this, many perceive bananas to be sugary and starchy. While bananas do contain natural fruit sugars, they also come in a complete nutritional package with fiber and vitamins, so they don’t unbalance your blood sugar like refined sugars. A banana has a glycemic index rating of between 40 and 52, which is much lower than foods like white bread or table sugar. Meanwhile, the carbohydrates in bananas can help provide quick-acting long-term energy. The fiber in bananas can also help keep bowel movements regular, while the electrolytes this fruit contains can help restore electrolytic balance if you are experiencing digestive issues such as diarrhea. Again, bananas are perfect, natural human food.
2 – Coconut Water
Coconut water has been called “nature’s sports drink”—and for good reason: no other food or beverage is richer in natural electrolytes. What are electrolytes? They are minerals present in your body fluids which carry an electric charge. You lose them when you sweat or lose fluid from your body, and if you lack them —you might feel dizzy, weak or just plain exhausted. Coconut water is rich in potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and other key electrolytes, making it an amazing pre or post workout beverage.
3 – Chia Seeds
Chia seeds provide complete protein, as well as antioxidants, vitamins, a variety of minerals such as calcium, and are a rich, plant-based source of omega-3 vs omega 6 fatty acids (ALA). Chia seeds have a high level of soluble and insoluble fiber, and swell up to 15 times their size when mixed with liquids to create a filling gel that provides long-burning fuel as it cleanses your digestive system. Because they are so nutrient-dense and filling, chia seeds can help reduce cravings and keep you on track with your diet. I eat them daily.
4 – Glowing Green Smoothie
Greens have more valuable nutrients than any other food group on the planet. You might be surprised to learn that greens even have high-quality, easily-assimilated amino acids –enough to build the protein that supports the muscle mass of the mighty, greens-eating gorilla, which pound-for-pound is the strongest animal on earth!
Blending helps make greens’full spectrum of nutrition readily available to the body. Nutrients are encased inside plant cells and getting their benefits requires these cells’walls to be ruptured. Greens need to be worked down to a creamy consistency, but most people simply don’t chew that much! Blending addresses this problem, helping your body absorb the maximum amount of nutrition from your greens.
And as we mentioned a moment ago, the Glowing Green Smoothie has both fruit and greens, giving you the carbs and amino acids your body needs to properly recover and repair following your workouts.
5 – Kale
Kale is an incredible beauty superfood that is one of my personal favorites. It is packed with phytochemicals, fiber and chloropyll, a major blood builder. The cleaner the blood the more beautiful we are. Kale is the most nutrient dense green vegetable available in your local market. It contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds. A 100 gram portion of kale contains: 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C, 300% of the RDA for Vitamin A (from beta-carotene), 1000% of the RDA for Vitamin K1, Large amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese. Best of all, each portion contains 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and only 50 calories. I remember when I was frequenting a yoga studio in New York that had a lot of serious practitioners. They were lean and incredibly strong. Nearly all of them ate kale on a daily basis.
I’ve found my Dharma’s Kale Salad is one of the most delicious ways to get kale into my diet each week.
6 – Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is typically grown on cane or beet molasses under carefully controlled conditions. It is rich in B vitamins, often including B12, making it an ideal vegetarian support food. Not everyone loves the taste but I find that it has a delicious cheesy flavor that I don’t otherwise get as I don’t consume dairy.
From a workout/recovery perspective, nutritional yeast may be even more impressive. It contains a whopping 8 grams of protein in just 1.5 tablespoons —making it one of the richest plant sources of protein available. And unlike nuts and seeds, which are mostly fat in their composition, nutritional yeast is low fat and easily absorbed by the body after a workout. I’ve already mentioned my Dharma’s Kale Salad —the combination of both kale and nutritional yeast in this salad make it an incredible meal following a workout.
7 – Acai
Açai is loaded with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including Omega 3 fatty acids, amino acids, minerals, key vitamins and fiber. The Omega 3 fatty acids found in Açai maintain the structure and fluidity of cell membranes, facilitating the inflow of nutrients and the outflow of waste products, promoting youthful, smooth and radiant skin by keeping skin cells hydrated and strong. In terms of recovery, Acai has plenty of carbs and amino acids, making it a naturally balanced answer to your body’s post workout needs.
8 – Sprouted Buckwheat
Sprouted buckwheat is one of the most nutrient rich whole grains. Buckwheat isn’t actually wheat, so don’t worry about any gluten. Remember what we said about getting both carbs and amino acids after your workout? Well, buckwheat has both in spades. It is a low on the glycemic index, yet high in fiber, amino acids, manganese, magnesium, antioxidants and is also alkaline-forming in digestion. It may help with blood pressure and lowering high cholesterol.
I love to sprout buckwheat, sweeten it very mildly and then dehydrate to create healthy/raw granola. Once you have buckwheat granola, you can have it with almond milk, or as part of a raw Acai bowl. It’s an amazing food and definitely great for anyone who’s active and works out a lot.
Now It’s Time To Go Workout!
I hope this post was helpful. My goal was to illustrate that it IS in fact possible to do serious workouts with proper recovery meals —eating the Beauty Detox way.
If you follow the tips about eating before and after workouts, use breath control to regulate your stress response during the workout —you’ll get all the amazing weight loss and anti-aging benefits of exercise without any downside.
And don’t forget about the foods! The eight foods I’ve listed have become staples and I can’t imagine going for very long without them. I’m sure they’ve played a big role in my strength and ability to do yoga or intense hikes for an hour or more without getting tired or feeling excessively sore afterward.
In the comments below, let me know if you have any questions —or if you have any great workout/food tips of your own. I’d love to hear them!
Stay tuned for another great recipe assignment tomorrow, I’ll talk to you then!