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Eating for working out? Food suggestions?

I think this might go here better than the Home Cookng? D:

Not because it's the new year, but my school schedule is finally a bit lighter so I can get into the habit of working out more often.
The thing that prevented me from doing so is that the cardio I did, despite only being about 10-20 minutes, made me so fatigued afterwards that I got too lazy to do anything; but I still had enough energy to stay awake?

I've asked elsewhere and they said it's probably my diet. I don't typically anything specific before I work out.
Any suggestions? As a note, I'd like to avoid any form of protein powders (unless it's reallyyy advisable) and I'm lactose intolerant. I can eat yogurt, though. I would like to lose weight too, but that's not a main goal atm. Main goal is me getting off my butt and working out more than just yoga.

Thank you very much in advance.

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  1. You should not need any supplements, like protein powders. Eat real food.

    What do you eat, now? Somebody said it's probably your diet - based on what?

    7 Replies
    1. re: johnseberg

      I generally just don't eat a lot. It's just how I am. D; It's a mixture of unhealthy & healthy~ish foods. I'm working on being more healthy, but I do want to know what foods would be more preferable.
      I also have asthma, so the amount of cardio I do is kinda heavy for me compared to how others would react to it.

      I usually eat/drink...greek yogurt, barley, sliced turkey, cheerios, almond milk, apples, eggs, roasted broccoli, spinach, pb & j sandwiches on the 35 calorie bread. (The bread is primarily because I prefer smaller bread.) Unhealthy foods would mainly be chips and fries.
      Those are the basics of my diet, I know that much. I don't remember what else I eat.

      I hope that helps? D:

      1. re: xjaebelle

        Individuals respond differently to diet adjustments, and I think this problem may require a lot of experimentation.

        Basic diet adjustments often include altering macronutrient (protein/fat/carb) composition and / or the size, frequency, and timing of meals.

        More drastic adjustments involve eliminating allergens, intolerances, and toxins. I'd consider this, if I had asthma. I've read about people who have seen improvements. However, I think elimination diets have a high potential to be damaging. Before trying an elimination diet, I think it is best to prepare for it by first learning to eat a large quantity and variety of *veggies*.

        1. re: xjaebelle

          I think your fatigue is related to the fact that "I generally just don't eat a lot." If I were you I'd load up on balanced proteins and vegetables with complex carbs (e.g. oatmeal, barley, quinoa, etc.). Are you vegetarian? You could more meat to your diet - chicken breast, pork tenderloin, lean steaks.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            I was thinking it would probably be that fact, but I wanted some guidance on what things I should try specifically eating.
            Not a vegetarian, though.
            I do eat a lot more veggies than I previously did, though. Broccoli, arugula, spinach, carrots...any others I should try out that I can probably find at Jewel.

            Would beans also be good for protein? I've been looking into eating more of that, mainly because as far as I know, it's budget-friendly. I get 60~ish every 2 weeks for groceries from my mom.
            I'd buy in bulk for proteins, but I don't have my own fridge/freezer.

            1. re: xjaebelle

              Well, again it depends on what your goals and preferences are. I am a person who loves to work out and lift weights. I thrive on protein and vegetables and can go weeks with few carbs from any other source which is good because it suits my body's natural preference as well as my fitness goals. However, this doesn't work for everyone so you have to decide what your goals are and how you can make a meal plan that fits within those goals but is also within your preferences such that you'll be able to maintain eating that way.

              The veggies you currenlty eat a great. You can always branch out. In fact, this week at the store I just randomly picked up a few new veggies I've never tried and others I want to experiment with more. My usual veggies include broccoli, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, cabbage, swiss chard, tomatoes, green beans, collard greens. This week I picked up celery root and kale. It's a great way to learn about a new food and also new cooking techniques and new recipes. I also always keep various lettuces around, I love salads. They are really refreshing especially after a long workout and are very versatile.

              Beans are a great source of protein as are other non-meat food like lentils, quinoa, etc. If you like eggs, they are budget friendly and one of the most versatile foods I can think of. I eat eggs at least once a day and never get tired of them. Also cheaper and more shelf-stable protein sources - canned tuna, salmon, sardines. Also yogurt, it's amazing what you can make with yogurt. If you have a stove, you can easily roast a whole chicken for $6 and use it for meals for 2 or even 3 days.

              Without a fridge/freezer, it might be difficult to get a lot of fresh foods. Is it shared or do you not have access to fridge/freezer at all?

              In terms of what you should be eating, my philosophy in general is people should eat real food, as minimally changed from it's natural state as possible. Know what you're putting into your body.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Ohno, I do have a fridge/freezer here! I live with my sister & her lil' family. It's just that space is very limited for me. They tend to buy a lot of frozen goods (they are a lazy family; this is why I get an allowance for food from my mom), so stocking on meat is pretty hard imo. I tend to have frozen veggies & some frozen fruit too on-hand for when getting to the store is out the question.

                For fridge-space, I think I'm pretty decent. It's enough for one person & I took one of their veggie drawers for my own use.

                I eat yogurt about once a day, depending on how much I have. I can't really have anymore than that due to my lactose intolerance.
                Eggs are a necessity in my life.

                Roasting a whole chicken for $6 sounds awesome though. :O How would I go about doing this?

                1. re: xjaebelle

                  Did someone tell you not to eat yogurt because you're lactose intolerant? If the yogurt has live cultures, the bacteria digest the lactose to lactic acid which is why yogurt tastes sour. Also, Greek Yogurt has been strained of mot of the whey and most of the lactose is in the whey, leaving very little if any lactose.

                  Roasting chicken is so easy and even now I'll just make it at home instead of buying a rotisserie chicken at the store. If you have an hour you have a roast chicken. My favorite approach is the Zuni chicken recipe but that requires forethought and room in a fridge to dry brine the chicken for 3 days. However, I've had great success if not better with Thomas Keller's roast chicken method. Buy a 3-5 lb chicken, remove from package, dry well, season with salt and pepper, preheat oven to 450F, roast for 50-60 minutes. You don't have to baste or anything else, don't even have to open the oven. Let it rest 15 minutes, and it's done! You can then use the chicken for all sorts of meals - chicken salad (mayo-based), chicken salad with greens, enchiladas, tacos, pasta, sandwiches, chili etc. If you're feeling adventurous you can use the remaining carcass to make stock and then make yourself soup for a few days.

      2. It depends a lot on your own body's digestive system as well as what time of day you work out.
        I go to the gym first thing in the morning and only have an espresso with a handful of cereal beforehand.

        If it has been more than 2-3hrs since your last meal then a small-ish easy to digest snack would be a good idea. Just be sure to give yourself a half hr or so to digest it first.
        Some ideas:
        A banana
        Hard boiled egg
        Two dried dates with a little nut butter
        Small cup of yogurt
        Fresh fruit
        For me the espresso is a great pick me up, but everyone reacts differently to it so make your own call there.

        Note that regular meals or snacks of processed or junk food will not help give you energy to work out- and will likely work against you to make you feel more drained.

        Honestly the only way to up the time you can do for cardio is to just keep doing it and regularly add a few more minutes. (So if 10minutes feels easy now bump it to 15, once that feels easy add another 5 min)
        If there are any classes offered at your gym that sound like fun those are a great distraction and often a lot of fun too!

        There is a lot written about "refueling" after a workout that is hotly debated on a regular basis. The consensus is that within a half hour to an hour after a strenous workout to have a snack/meal with protein to help build muscle. However, this seems to be applied more towards athletes and people who are doing high intensity cardio and/or weigh training. There are a gazillion articles and opinions on the web if you want more info.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ttrockwood

          "Note that regular meals or snacks of processed or junk food will not help give you energy to work out- and will likely work against you to make you feel more drained. "

          I agree these foods are more than likely stimulating a lot of insulin which peaks and then falls pretty quickly leaving you drained...i.e. the crash.

          I am an avid weightlifter and there is a lot of talk about refueling after a workout but recently more emphasis on the fact that meal timing and size doesn't seem to matter. Regardless, I try to eat within an hour or so after working out and if I'm having any simple carbs that day it's usually during that time but I always have a big dose of protein - usually cooked food but if I have no time a whey protein shake.

        2. +1 on eat something. Handful of granola or nuts, luna/lara/other nutrition bar, whatever.

          There also seems to be some evidence that more cardio is not necessarily better. Sure, you'll burn more calories overall, but apparently intensity is at least as important as duration. Can't find it right now, but there was an article to that effect in the NYT a few weeks ago. Also see the NYT 7 minute workout.

          5 Replies
          1. re: babette feasts

            Hmm. I'll look into that article.
            The cardio is also because I want to improve my breathing endurance. I have asthma. I do yoga and light strength training too.

            I wanted to also lose weight in the long-run, but someone's told me I shouldn't eat something. That sounded...so wrong. I'm not hungry after my workouts; just fatigued.

            1. re: xjaebelle

              What are your overall goals? Just to lose weight? How much weight? Any interests in the balance of fat and protein composition of your body or just weight in general? All of these things are important to decide how to feed your body.

              Some amount of fatigue is expected after a workout. After a heavy leg lifting day, I often just crash but it shouldn't be so extreme that you aren't able to function or find it difficult to recover within an hour afterwards.

              I think it would help to define your goals and then to try to focus on how to get to those specific goals.

              Do you like to swim? It's great exercise and works really well to build cardiovascular fitness.

            2. re: babette feasts

              The current research suggests that the emphasis on long slow cardio from the 80s is not only not more beneficial but is discouraging to many who are trying to improve their fitness. Many trainers and schools of fitness thought now focus on HIIT - high intensity interval training - kick your own ass for a short amount of time and it's over rather than sludging on a treadmill for hours on end. There are a lot of home HIIT workouts on YouTube that can help OP find new exercises that can literally be done anywhere.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Agreed, fldhkybnva. Check out this site for workout videos and also nutrition info. www.fitnessblender.com. They have lots of HIIT videos.

                Have you had your iron levels and thyroid checked? Being low on both of those can cause fatigue. Also, if you are having breathing issues while working out that too can cause fatigue.

                It sounds like your diet is pretty good. I would add more lean protein (chicken breasts, egg whites, etc) and more veggies but really it doesn't sound that bad.

                It's so great you're making good life changes. Best of luck!

                1. re: lynnlato

                  Awesome thanks. I usually do HIIT and it's nice to have new workouts when I don't feel like lugging myself to the gym or when I need to just work off some energy.

            3. A few suggestions...
              1. Track your food intake for a few days using an app like MyFitnessPal. Totally a pain in the *** but helpful to determine if you are in the right ball park for total calories, protein, etc. I'm lucky, hunger is a pretty good indicator for me on how much to eat but doing this has helped confirm this.
              2. If you aren't already, see a doctor about the asthma. They make good drugs for this. Not getting enough oxygen into the blood will make you very fatigued.
              3. I (now) laugh at the couch to 5K in 8 wk kind of programs. It took me 2 years to get in good enough shape to run 5k, and I did it by first getting in the pool and learning how to properly swim. If you have asthma, swimming really is the best exercise.
              4. some times you will be totally wiped for a few hours after a tough workout. This will pass as you get into better shape. Make sure you plan to get more sleep!
              5. Drink plenty of water.

              Good luck!