This year we are going to be featuring different experts in plant-strong nutrition and fitness.
Today, Lani Muelrath, is dropping by to answer one of your questions! If you want to learn a little bit more about Lani check out this introduction post. If you have a question for Lani, just leave it in the comments.
Monique asks: I work out early in the morning, starting with Pilates (all core work). Do you have any suggestions for something that will sit well in the stomach for that activity (so I can ditch the protein shakes).
Lani: Monique, it sounds like you are talking about what to eat before your workout. In that case, remember that something like a protein shake is not optimal right before your workout because of the digestion time involved – as evidenced by the ‘sit in the stomach’ comment that you made.
In other words, the calories from a heavy protein shake would not be available to your body to utilize until hours later anyway.
On top of that, protein is not a good source of ‘energy’. We get energy from carbohydrates primarily.
Some say that since glycogen – stored energy for activity – is stored in our muscles and liver that we don’t need to eat anything in the morning before exercise because there is plenty in storage.
However, Len Kravitz PhD, from UNM, has this to say:
The substrate that most effectively powers your workout is carbohydrate. Fat definitely contributes, but carbohydrates in the form of glucose are the body’s favorite exercise fuel. After a night’s sleep, the muscles are very depleted of glycogen, the stored form of glucose. Therefore, the muscles will be lacking in the energy substrate they needs to work hard and long. In addition, the brain utilizes glucose for all of its fuel needs. Therefore, the muscles of the body and some brain functions may be impaired due to exercising in this fasted situation. Encourage your clients to have a light carbohydrate snack…before the morning workout to properly fuel the workout and safeguard themselves from bodily harm.
Remember I said the protein takes a longer time to digest? In contrast, carbohydrate such as fruit digests easily and comparatively quite quickly, which makes it the perfect pre-workout snack. You can then do your Pilates workout and save a heavier meal for post workout.
And I can’t let the opportunity to address ‘protein shakes’ slip by. It is quite easy to surpass our protein requirements when we turn to concentrated sources such as protein shakes. Most of us get sufficient protein in our daily whole foods, plant-strong diet. It’s not going to give you more energy or build muscle of its own accord.
For more on protein, see:
Thank you once again Lani! Do you have questions for Lani? Please leave a comment and questions below!
Look for more guests posts by some of our favorite experts!