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By Amber Green

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What & When To Eat While Exercising

If you have started or are keeping a fitness routine, you are most likely constantly told/ or hear that you should make sure your body gets the correct amount of nutrients to fuel your efforts and get the results you desire.


If you are anything like I was you probably have a lot of questions.


In the beginning I was asking myself whether I eat before or after a workout, as well as WHEN to eat and WHAT to eat before and after a workout?


At the start we all have questions, lack the knowledge, and might be feeling overwhelmed because EVERYONE is talking about it on their FB & Instagram feeds or Youtube Channels.


All that information is soooo confusing!!!!!!


So I wanted to write this blog to hopefully simplify a seemingly complex topic and answer some If not all of your questions about the subject.


But to better understand our nutritional needs let’s do a little review about the different types of exercise and I will provide some additional “golden nuggets’ to help you along the way🤩


4 Types of Exercise


Usually when people are active, they tend to focus on one type of exercise or activity and think they're doing enough but research has shown that it's important to get all four types of exercise to be healthier.


The four types of exercise are:

  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Flexibility


Including all types of exercise in your fitness plan like we do in our Querencia Mindful Fitness Program can benefit a wide range of areas of your life because each one has different benefits.


Increasing your endurance will help you with keeping up with your grandchildren during a trip to the park, dancing to your favorite songs at a family wedding and raking the yard and bagging up leaves.

Strong muscles can help you stay independent and make everyday activities feel easier, like getting up from a chair, climbing stairs, and carrying groceries. Keeping your muscles strong can help you with balance and prevent falls and fall related injuries.


Balance exercises can prevent falls which is a common problem in older adults that can have serious consequences.


Stretching can improve your flexibility. Moving more freely will make it easier for you to reach down to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when you back your car out of the driveway.


When attempting to get healthy a lot of people stress about when to eat their carbs, when to eat their fats and what supplements to take in and around their workouts and this can be distracting, even self sabotaging.


May even cause you to quit or even worse ….to not start at all.


And it really depends on your goals and the actions or classes you are taking to reach them 🏋️‍♂️


What works for you may not necessarily work for others because you are different!


So, if you’ve tried something and it hasn’t worked for you… don’t be discouraged…


Let’s say you're a healthy person who exercises regularly.


In general, you probably don't need any special workout nutrition strategies and nutrient timing is not a main priority either.


For those who participate in our Mindful Fitness Program I suggest eating a healthy, well considered meal one to two hours before exercise and another healthy, well considered meal within one to two hours after exercise, focusing on eating more minimally processed proteins, veggies, quality carbs, and healthy fats, and ensuring your portions are the right size and in the right amounts for you.


Most people can meet their workout nutrition needs without anything else.


But let’s face it some days are better than others when it comes to working out.


Oftentimes the cause of our rise and decline is obvious enough like lack of sleep or it can be  unclear such as the effect of what we eat before a workout has on our exercise, progress, performance, and recovery.


Proper nutrient intake can be majorly impactful when it comes to exercise, and sometimes that protein bar isn't going to cut it.


I know this because I lived it.


My whole life I have been active… an athlete….an elite athlete.


All of my friends, family, and strangers would and still do comment on how “healthy” and “fit” I was and am.


The thing was, I wasn’t healthy and I am still struggling with being authentically “fit”.


Yea, I was muscularly toned, and had good posture, and was blessed with a high metabolism but I didn’t provide my body (or mind) with the food it needed to replenish what I was burning off.


I just ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Because I didn’t know any better.


I believe the only time I had any nutritional guidance was when my figure skating coach would tell me to eat pasta the night before a competition to give me energy.


but I didn’t really understand why and …. I was a kid so I wasn’t really interested. I now know this was something called carb loading and we will visit this concept again later on.


As I got older and started attending school to become a professional contemporary dancer, I started worrying about the fact that my fast metabolism that burned off calories really quickly was now being further accelerated by 8 hours of intense athletic training 5 days a week.


I started thinking about how much more active I was now and the implications of the fact that there was no change in my diet to support that increase in activity.


I started getting sick more often, was exhausted on a daily basis, became more prone to injury, and experienced regular migraines as well as a decrease in my physical performance (and grades) in class and on stage.


I decided to take action, I started researching and meal planning, and meal prepping in accordance with the Nutritional Guidelines set out in Canada.


I sifted through a ton of nutritional information, advice from personal trainers, and articles by medical practitioners in hopes to condense the plethora of information out there into something easy to comprehend and implement.


Now I eat consciously, I plan my meals to ensure I get the right amount of protein and carbs needed to perform to the best of my ability and to improve my technical skills.


In our Querencia Mindful Fitness Program, much like the dance training I endured, many classes included all types of exercise where others focused on one.


Ok so it’s time to talk about how to properly fuel up for each type of workout so no matter what type of exercise you have planned, you know what and when to eat, as well as the reason why you are eating it.


We will focus on endurance, strength, and flexibility as balance is usually included in these classes and nutritional needs and nutrient timings will be met if we follow the guidelines for these three exercise types.


Endurance Training


Endurance activities include swimming, biking, running, walking, aerobic/cardio, jump rope, dance, circuit training, yoga and pilates.


Yoga and Pilates can be pretty strenuous. Some classes or workouts throw in some body weighted moves and turn up the heat and BAM you've got a big workout.🧘‍♂️


This requires some much needed carbs as well as tons of hydration.


In the case of power yoga or hot yoga, lean into carbs. Since you are likely to be stretching and bending about, I recommend easy to digest carbs about an hour or two before getting into your flow.


Eating a light meal a few hours beforehand can be helpful to avoid both light headedness and an upset stomach. 🥗


🔑 Hydration is key, especially if you're taking a hot class on the regular.


We should be drinking half our body weight in ounces daily.


If you're doing a hot or intense yoga or Pilates class try to hydrate a bit extra before and after class.


This will account for all of the glorious sweat you lose.😅


Also consider electrolyte infused drinks and water additives because they help us tolerate heat better. I suggest drinking these before, after, and even during your workout if you have a chance.


They will minimize post workout fatigue from the workout and heat. 🥱


Average cardio is any cardio exercise that isn't long term or quite as intense as, let's say, a marathon. It’s not as long or dependent on endurance.


Think of this as your typical running, elliptical, rowing, or stair climber routine, as well as boxing or dance class.🩰


With workouts around 30 minutes to an hour, stay hydrated with water and place your focus on a healthy diet overall. No specific pre-workout meal necessary.


Consider eating when and if you reach a 60 minute mark at an intense pace or a 90 minute workout at a moderate pace.


If you're doing longer or very intense workouts, the meal or snack you eat beforehand should be mostly carbs which will help with endurance and not getting fatigued after your workouts.


I suggest eating two to three hours beforehand to allow your body to begin digestion.


But if you're in a crunch and need to eat less than an hour before your workout, go for a meal or snack that's mainly carbs and some protein.


The important part is that it's easy to digest, so think toast, bananas, eggs, sweet potatoes and healthy cereals.


Intense cardio is exercise at a high level for a prolonged amount of time using large muscle groups.🚴‍♀️


This means that you need an adequate amount of fuel like carbs to burn.


At least 70% of your total calories should be from carbs, with 15% being from protein and the remaining 15% from fats.


Ideally, your carbs should be unprocessed and the fats naturally occurring. Think whole grain pasta or plant protein pasta with avocado, not white pasta and olive oil. 🥑🍝


This focus on carbs is referred to as carb loading and provides the athlete with adequate energy to burn throughout their big exercise.


Strength Training


Strength exercises include things like squats, weight lifting, body weight training, circuit training, push-ups and so much more.


Unlike endurance activities, preparing for a strength session doesn't require consuming a ton of carbs. When it comes to gaining muscle, the emphasis is on protein.🍗


Before strength training, make a protein shake or a smoothie, but one that's not TOO high in protein.🥤


What you may not expect, though, is that there's a fine line between getting the right amount and too much.


Any more than 30 grams at once can actually stress your kidney and cause absorption issues, as well as storing excess protein as fat.


Consuming too much protein can even lead to health consequences like osteoporosis and kidney disease.


For women it is recommended between 15 and 18 grams of protein.


For men it is recommended anywhere between 20 and 25 grams of protein.


A casual strength trainer should consume 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight whereas an athlete should consume 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight.


Training as a bodybuilder, you lift some serious weights, so these individuals and intense strength trainers, should consume 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and would also benefit from performance enhancing muscle preserving essential amino acids during their training.


Staying hydrated is important for strength training as well. Hydrated muscles are strong muscles.


Strength is adversely affected by dehydration because if you don’t drink enough water your muscles will be deprived of electrolytes and cramp.


You won’t have as much physical strength as you would if you were fully hydrated.




💧Hydration is key to flexibility as well. The human body is made up of 70% water, which means the muscles are also 70% water.


When you’re dehydrated, muscles are dehydrated too and they will not extend and contract in the way they are meant to when fully hydrated.


Joints are lubricated by synovial fluid, an oily water-based fluid that manufactured by your body to keep joints functioning properly.If your body has a lack of water, the synovial fluid is depleted, and the joint stiffens as a result.



Whew! That was a lot of information… and that’s a wrap for this one!


I hope you found some value out of this blog!


‼️If you are interested in accessing more content like this, as well as freebies, and exclusive discounts….JOIN our Iron Lotus Newsletter by clicking the button below👇



Stay Mindful & Well!


Your Mindful Fitness Coach,



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