5 Drinks to Avoid When Exercising

Water is life. Without it, we would barely last three days. When you get dehydrated, your muscles won’t have the ability to function normally. When it comes to exercise, proper hydration is crucial and what you drink before your workout will make a difference in your performance.

drinks to avoid when exercising

According to research from Columbia University, you should consume liquids at the following intervals for optimum effect.

• 20 OZ Two hours before a workout.
• 8 OZ During Warm-up.
• 8 OZ Every 10-20 minutes based on how much sweating you do.

Not All Liquids Are Created Equal

Sticking to these numbers is only the first step, though. Drink the wrong liquid, and your workout will suffer. Here are five drinks to avoid when exercising.

Alcohol

Yes, I know, this one should be one of the obvious drinks to avoid when exercising. However, when you consider you need to start your hydration TWO HOURS before you work out, that beer with lunch on the weekend could turn your workout later into a hot mess.

This should also be taken into consideration if you are planning to do anything else strenuous, like yard work.

Dairy

You should definitely postpone consuming any dairy until after the workout.

It takes a lot of time for your body to digest and process the number of carbs, fat, and protein that dairy contains. Consequently, your body is going to take that energy away from your workout, making it them definite drinks to avoid when exercising.

Highly Sugared Fruit Drinks

Pre-workout is not the time to kick back with a juice box. Most brands on the market contain excessive amounts of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. These additives can make you sluggish and mess with your blood sugar levels, making them drinks to avoid when exercising.

Instead, opt for homemade fruit infused water with this simple process:

  • Fill water bottle or pitcher with fresh water and ice as desired
  • Add sliced citrus, fresh berries, fresh mint or other desired fruit or herb.
  • Let sit for 10-20 minutes or longer for the desired level of flavor.

These easy fruit infusions provide a light, refreshing flavor to plain water without the extra calories and sugars.

Don’t have time? Grab coconut water from the fridge section of the nearest convenience store. Not only will it give you the needed water for your workout, but it also is a natural source of the potassium and electrolytes you’ll need to replace as you sweat.
Just make sure you get a 100% coconut water beverage, not one of the 10% water plus bad stuff. A good choice is Vita Coco.

ALL Carbonated Beverages

And I don’t just mean sugary sodas. This includes anything fizzy, even flavored waters like La Croix or plain seltzer. Many of these beverages contain higher amounts of sodium, which can suck the water out of your body’s cells quickly. Additionally, carbonation can cause gassiness and bloat that can make a tough workout even tougher and why they are drinks to avoid when exercising.

Need an alternative? Try an iced green tea. It has just enough caffeine to help you focus without being as dehydrating as traditional black teas. Remember the fruit infusions we made earlier? For a step up, make your own green tea fruit infusions instead of spending money on the bottled versions.

Sports Drinks

Yep, really. Despite the added vitamins and electrolytes that many brands boast, most of them also contain high amounts of sugar as well. Instead, go for a tomato juice. Tomatoes are also high in potassium, and its natural sugars help your body instead of harm it.

Let’s Recap

So, avoid sugar, dairy, and bubbles. Go for green tea, coconut water, tomato juice and of course, good old-fashioned water!

Stop Making These Self-Weight Mistakes in Body Building

When starting any exercise routine, it’s important to know that what works for others won’t necessarily work for you.  Knowing ahead of time will help ensure the best possible success in reaching your goals.  Here is a quick list of common self-weight mistakes in strength training you should be aware of and try to avoid.

Self-Weight Mistake #1: Not Making a Clear Workout Plan Tailored to Your Goals

Just because the guy or girl next to you is doing it doesn’t mean you should.  Consult an expert when planning your workout routine and goals.  Doing so will help reduce the possibility of injury.

Self-Weight Mistake #2: Doing Workouts that Induce Muscle Failure

If you find you are consistently having problems completing the number of reps you’ve set for yourself and end up stopping mid-rep, re-adjust your goals.  If you continuously work your muscles until they fail, you run a higher risk of severe injury.

Self-Weight Mistake #3: Too Many Reps

self-weight mistakeMore isn’t always better.  If your trainer has told you to do X number of reps, just do that amount.  You won’t see result faster by doing more; you’ll just run the risk of muscle failure and possible injury.

Self-Weight Mistake #4: Not Allowing Yourself Recovery Time After an Illness

When you are sick, your body is using its energy to get better.  This “by-pass” of your energy is going to leave you weaker. If you don’t give yourself enough time to recover, especially from serious illnesses, you run the risk of making yourself worse and taking even longer to get back to normal.

Self-Weight Mistake #5: Not Allowing Yourself Recovery Time After an Injury

When you get injured, its because part of your body wasn’t ready to deal with whatever paces you were putting it through.  When inflammation builds in the body from injuries, trying to get back into your routine too soon will only cause the inflammation to spread.  If left unchecked, you risk permanent damage to your tissues.

Self-Weight Mistake #6: Not Allowing Sufficient Rest Between Workouts

According to most studies today, your muscles need 24-48 hours to heal the micro-tears that develop during a strength training workout. While the intensity of the workout and your diet play parts in how quickly your muscles bounce back, you don’t want to push them before they are ready.  Ask your doctor or trainer what symptoms to look out for so you know the difference between normal post-workout soreness and actual stress.

Self-Weight Mistake #7: Skipping Warm-up Routines

Warm-ups increase your heart rate, letting extra oxygen and nutrients feed your muscles before you get into the demanding stuff.  That’s why it’s important to include recommended dynamic stretching before your planned routine.

Self-Weight Mistake #8: Not Eating Enough

This is often the case if one of your goals is weight-loss.  However, if you don’t give yourself the energy your muscles need to get stronger, you won’t make any progress. Talk to a nutritionist about the best meal plan to fit your goals.

Self-Weight Mistake #9: Not Eating the Right Foods

No carbs – high protein?  High carbs – high protein?  No fat – yes fat?  Every other month it seems like there is another diet claiming miracle weight loss if you only cut out one food. The reality is, except for junk foods, if you stick to the right balance of whole foods that give your body the energy and nutrients it needs to care for itself, you’re on the right path. This means the right amounts of complex carbs, good fats, lean proteins and lots of produce. A nutritionist will be able to help you determine what foods will work best to achieve your goals.

Make Sure You Are Working Smarter as You Work Harder

Once you have a plan in place, you’ll be able to track your progress much easier and be more successful.

What is the Best Time of Day to Workout?

Does the early bird always catch the worm? In the world full of fitness enthusiasts, many experts believe that morning workout hold greater advantages than those in the evening while other fitness professional believe the opposite to be true. While many people swear by an early morning jog to get their hearts racing and get them psyched up for the day, some won’t break a sweat before noon, preferring a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. But is there any particular time of the day that’s best to exercise? Does it even matter? Let’s take a look at the advantages of both sides of the argument so you can decide what’s best for you.

The Perks of Morning Workouts

Group of women working out in fitness studioAlthough there’s no reliable evidence to suggest that calories are burned more efficiently at certain time of day, however, the time of day can influence how you feel when exercising. So it would be wise to choose a time of day you can stick with so that exercise becomes a habit. That being said, morning may be your best time to exercise.

Studies suggest that if you want to lose fat, the best time to exercise is in the morning before breakfast. Research suggests in terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, individuals who exercise in the morning tend to do better.

One of the reasons why working out first thing in the morning helps burn more calories, or at least protects the body from gaining, is that it pushes the body to tap into its fat reserves for fuel, as opposed to simply burning off your most recent snack or meal. Scientifically speaking, the body effectively run out of carbohydrates or sugars for fuel and it switches to burning fuels instead. The releases the substance that turns on the fat cells to release their fats. Many research findings on morning workouts suggest that early exercisers are more likely to stick with a fitness regime than those who leave it until later in the day.

Additionally, it’s easier for an individual to stay on track with a fitness regime first thing in the morning because there’s relatively less time for family, evening plans, commuting, night shifts in the office, and other distractions getting in the way. Fatigue from a long tiring day can also lead to skipped evening workouts. Plus, mornings see less traffic making morning workouts more efficient. And while there may be an influx of gym-goers in the morning, these patrons tend to get in and out within a particular span of time, leaving no room for socialization and clogging up the gym floor.

Morning workouts might also be a good option for stress-free snoozing. Since exercise increases heart rate and body temperature, working out late in the evening (normally after 8 PM) may disrupt sleep, while many studies suggest that working out first thing in the morning may help you sleep more soundly at night. At least 45 minutes of moderate morning exercise or walking on the treadmill might help curb appetite directly after working out. Research also shows that people burn up to 20 percent of more body fat exercising on an empty stomach, which is much easier to do first thing in the morning.

Advantages of Evening Exercise

working-out1On the contrary, if you want to gain muscle mass, exercising later might be your best option because working out in the evening is a good way to gain strength and that’s why fitness trainers like weightlifters work out in the evenings. The body muscles have warmed up by the evening and certain hormones that are necessary for muscle resistance work are optimal at this time.

Evening workouts might also help you to regulate the amount of food you feel like eating for dinner, which is in fact beneficial if you tend to eat big meals at night. Plus, it can also be a great stress reliever after a busy day at work or home.

Research suggests the body could adapt to regular gym dates better, so if you hit the weight room every day, let’s say 4 PM, eventually you might perform better at that time than at any other time of the day. Earlier research says sticking to a specific workout time can result in better performance, higher oxygen consumption, and lower perceived exhaustion. But scheduling a workout is more complicated than choosing a number on the clock. That being said, an individual who works out later in the day has the opportunity to eat and fuel the body for a more intense workout.

Your body’s core temperature plays an important role in determining the quality of your exercise. A cold body leaves muscles stiff, inefficient, and susceptible to sprains, whereas higher body temperatures leave muscles more flexible. The body temperature typically increases throughout the day, so muscle strength and endurance may peak in the late afternoon, when the body temperature is at its peak. That time is also when reaction time is quickest and heart rate and blood pressure are lowest, all of which combine to improve performance and reduce risks of injury.

working-out2Working out after work can also be beneficial. You’ll likely have more energy than if you try to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. And since research suggests that you only need a 20-minute endorphin burst to unwind, fitting in a quick workout session can help you relax after a rough day at the office.

Hormone levels are also important in determining optimal workout time. Testosterone is crucial for muscle growth and strength, in both males and females. The body produces more testosterone during late afternoon resistance training than it does during early morning workouts. Plus, the stress hormone cortisol, which aids in the storage of fat and reduction of muscle tissue, peaks in the morning and decreases throughout the day and during exercise. The best way to see if evening workout works or doesn’t work for you is to try it and see how you feel about it.

The Bottom Line

Well, the most important thing is not so much the time of day that you exercise, but that you actually do it – and do it on a regular basis. Remember, consistency is the key, so find the time that allows you to stick to a regular routine. The best plan to prevent increases in body weight is obviously to combine a healthy, well-balanced diet with an active lifestyle. Keeping that in mind, you don’t have to exercise first thing in the morning, if it’s not just your cup of tea. So don’t stress if you’re not an early bird. The most important thing is to find a consistent workout schedule, no matter what the time.

How Much Water Should You Be Drinking When Exercising?

how much water should you be drinking

Whether you’re an elite athlete or a fitness enthusiast, drinking enough water during workout is essential. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water during exercise is incredibly important because your body needs enough fluid before and after exercise, especially first thing in the morning when your body is partially hydrated from not having consumed any fluids throughout the night. But how do you know when you’ve had enough? Not only does research show people who drink more water consume fewer calories, but H2O is also an essential pre-workout beverage.

When To Drink Water?

wourkout-and-waterWhether you need to drink water during workout depends on a number of factors. Firstly, how long you’re exercising for, how intense your workout is and the air temperature at which you’re working out as each of these factors will affect how much fluid you’re losing through sweat.

So it’s usually recommended to have small to moderate amounts of fluid during a workout, to keep you performing at your peak without hampering your routine and minimize the need to replace so much fluid when you’re done working out.

When you work out, you’re more likely to lose water, both through your breath and through sweat. That’s because water helps your body to exercise efficiently. Not only it lubricates your entire body, but it is also a vital part of the many chemical reactions in the body.

If these reactions slow down then tissues heal slower, muscle recovery becomes slower and the body won’t function at 100% efficiency.

Why Is Hydration Important?

wourkout-and-water1

Around 70% of human body is made of water. It’s vital for every chemical reaction in the body. Our body needs around 2-3 liters of water a day to transport nutrients, help with digestions, to carry out waste and toxins, and also to support brain function for mood, energy and concentration. You lose water and body salts – mostly sodium and chloride – through urine but also when it evaporates as sweat. Even more fluids are lost when you work out, and water losses of only 1-2% of your body weight can impair performance by around 10-20%.

To better understand how you need to deal with thirst during workout, you first need to consider how water can impact your athletic performance. When you start feeling thirsty between your workout sessions, you’re probably a little hydrated already. Because water makes up 75% of all muscle tissues and about 10% of fatty tissues, the onset of dehydration, even at minimal levels, can have a significant impact on your overall performance. Beyond moderate dehydration, things can get really worse.

Good hydration is important not only for your overall health but also for performance in sport. Many people tend to underestimate their fluid requirements and are constantly dehydrated. When you’re well hydrated, the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood to the body, and oxygen and nutrients can be transported more efficiently to the muscles whilst working out. This means it is a lot easier to exercise hard when you are hydrated well and maintain this level of hydration as you work out.

How Much Water Do You Need?

wourkout-and-water2

We all lose fluids at different rates depending on our levels of exertion, but as a general guide, always start any workout session well hydrated. But how much water should you drink before, during and after a workout? How much water you need varies greatly from person to person. There’s a plethora of factors that can determine your hydration needs – including your conditioning level, nutrition, climate and the specific workout.

When working out, it is generally recommended that you consume 15 to 20 ounces of water 1 to 2 hours before starting a workout, as this gives enough time to excrete any excess fluid. Fifteen minutes before you start, you should drink another 8 to 10 ounces and then continue to drink another 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of physical activity if possible. You may need to drink more if you’re sweating too much, especially if you’re exercising outdoors in very hot weather.

For the best hydration possible, it is recommended that you weigh yourself before and after any type of exercise. For every pound you lost, replace it with 16 to 20 ounces of fluid. If you are losing weight, it is likely that you need to drink more to maintain hydration. It’s important to remember that hydration needs to be maintained daily and not just when you are working out.

Deciding how much to sip in the middle of a sweat session is a little more subjective. If you’re in the middle of a particularly intense workout and feel that you can’t go without a sip of water, by all means, you should take some. Just know that your preparation for the workout extends beyond eating well and mobilizing. You also need to factor in the temperature of your workout environment. If the temperature isn’t bearable, reaching for the water is still tactic.

Many people use sports drinks during a workout but that’s generally not necessary unless you’re working out for an extended period of time. After 90 minutes of moderate exercise, water is no longer enough. At this point, your glycogen stores are mere fumes, so you’ll need to start sipping electrolyte-rich sports drinks. Commercial sports drinks are designed to offer you a combination of the fluids and salt you lose during exercise and they come with a variety of descriptions. Managing your minerals is even more important if you’re an endurance athlete.

Drinking Too Much Water

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Drinking too much water without replacing electrolytes can cause a condition called hyponatremia. With hyponatremia, the blood becomes excessively diluted from too much water and sodium levels drop to dangerously low levels. This can lead to nausea, headaches, fatigue, seizures, organ failure, and in extreme cases, coma and even death. However, you’d have to drink like gallons of water to suffer hyponatremia – enough to gain weight over the course of a workout which is rare. If you’re tackling long-distance runs, make sure you have a proper hydration strategy in place.

What to Eat Before Your Morning Workout

what to eat before workout

It’s no secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is a critical meal because it influences how you perform physically and mentally. A good and healthy breakfast fuels you up and gets you ready for the day. Scientifically, kids and teens who eat breakfast regularly have more energy and do better in school. It’s considered an important meal because it breaks the overnight fasting period, replenished your supply of glucose while providing other essential nutrients to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Apart from providing us with energy, breakfast foods are great sources of important nutrients such as calcium, iron and B vitamins as well as protein and fiber.

morning-mealsIt’s true skipping your morning snack can lead to some unpleasant side effects. The key to starting your day off right is getting the right mix of carbohydrates and proteins. When it comes to your morning workout, that combination is even more crucial. Of course, exercising first thing in the morning is one of the best habits you can get into. When you wake up and jump on to your fitness regime it can help to speed up your metabolism, regulate your appetite and start your day off with a great accomplishment.

However, what to eat before starting your day off can seem a bit confusing. Here are some tips to get the most out of your workout and stay energized for the rest of the day.

Why Should You Eat?

Some studies suggest working out on an empty stomach can cause your body to burn more fat during your workout, which sounds great right? Your body relies on glycogen to fuel your workouts and when glycogen levels are low, it relies on burning fat to fuel your workouts instead. This would be great if your body had just enough glycogen and fats to fuel your workouts, but, unfortunately, that is not the case. When you’re working out on an empty stomach, especially during tough cardio sessions, your body runs the risk of using muscle tissues rather than fat to fuel your morning workouts, which eventually starts to break down your existing muscles you worked so hard to build and could lead to weak workout performance.

When Should You Eat?

morning-meals1

Eating before exercising is important to prevent low blood sugar, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded during and after your workout. Additionally, eating before your morning workout helps you maintain adequate energy stores in your body, especially early in the morning. Eating a meal 45 minutes before moderate-intensity exercise significantly enhances exercise capability. Typically, it takes food about 45 minutes to digest so it’s advisable to eat small meal 45 minutes before you work out. Although that may seem like so early in the morning, eating before working out can increase your energy and allow you to work out with more intensity for longer periods of time.

What To Eat?

morning-meals2By eating a small, well-rounded breakfast, you will get a quick and long-lasting energy boost, however, avoid eating food which are high in fat, because they take longer for your body to digest, keeping your body from performing at its optimal level. Eating a meal before an early morning workout can sound daunting to some, so work on keeping the meal small. When thinking about fuel for those more aggressive early morning workouts, small portions and simple carbs are best. For the typical 45-60 minute workout, your pre-workout snack should be at least about 200 calories. This will give you enough fuel to energize your workout but not much so your body feels sluggish because it is using so much energy digesting.

In general, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends that you eat high-carbohydrate foods with moderate amounts of protein that can be easily digested. A pre-workout snack containing between 100-400 calories can fuel your exercise without making you feel full or slow you down. Adding a little protein is great but keep in mind that, because they are slower to digest, overdoing it can lead to cramps, or worse.

Key Points

  • Topping your whole wheat English muffin with egg whites is a great way to add protein to your morning meal. The combination creates a great pre-workout breakfast staple that boosts energy and properly fuels your body with nutrients. Eggs are packed with protein which ensures an ample supply of the amino acid building blocks the body needs to repair and build muscle tissue.
  • If you’re concerned about weight gain or are trying to lose some extra calories, eat something on the light side of the calorie range, like a banana or a slice of toasted bread with a little peanut butter on top. Peanut butter isn’t just for kids. It’s a classic choice for breakfast meal and has remained popular for good reason – it’s easy and equally tasty for even the most discerning adult taste buds.
  • Spoon your way to a leaner physique by eating the mix of cereal, yogurt and blueberries. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein. On average, it has 18g of protein, plus it is low in calories and lactose, making it easy to digest. Blueberries are high in fiber and antioxidants.
  • A homemade smoothie made with yogurt or nut butter, almond milk, frozen fruit, such as a banana, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, or mango would be great before hitting the gym. Berries are always a great fruit to add to smoothies because they are very high in antioxidants and a good source of fiber. Whipping up a smoothie for breakfast will further help you fuel your metabolism first thing in the morning.
  • If you prefer a warm breakfast, scrambled eggs with lots of vegetables such as onion, garlic, pepper, mushroom, spinach, tomato, and jalapeno and herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, and chives. Eggs are high in protein and they are versatile. An egg scramble is a great way to use up whatever veggies you have on hand in a snap.

Drinking Before Exercise

morning-meals3After your workout, don’t forget to follow up with plenty of fluids followed by a more substantial breakfast afterward. Drinking enough fluid before and after exercise is equally important, especially first thing in the morning, as your body may be partially dehydrated from not having consumed any fluids throughout the night. Drink at least between 6-8 ounces before hitting the gym, if possible, and make sure you continue to drink water throughout your workout. This will keep you hydrated and prevent that bloated stomach feeling. If you’re on the lighter side of your pre-workout meal, choose a sports drink instead of water to support your energy needs.

That being said, what exactly should you eat before work out depends on the type of exercise you’re gearing up for. For example, less intense morning workouts, such as yoga classes, don’t call for quite as much food as other taxing routines. In regard to workouts that fall in the middle of the exercise-intensity spectrum, you should fuel up with adequate amount of carbohydrates and proteins. On the other hand, if your workout is all about endurance, eating a minimum of 30g of carbohydrates per hour of exercise should do the trick. For muscle building, a larger pre-workout meal combined with a pre-workout protein shake can be very helpful.