When I was six years old, I decided that breakfast was for the birds - literally. I would sneak my toast outside, crumble it up and feed the birds. My mother caught me and made a rule: No breakfast, no dance class after school. I liked to dance (I was the clumsiest kid in the class, but the tap shoes rocked), so I gave in. And now, more years later than I want to admit, it turns out that Mom was right about eating that toast before my workout. Studies show that by timing your meals and carbs with your exercise, you can stay lean while recovering more effectively.
"Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, enhancing your muscles’ desire and ability to take up carbohydrates," explains Dr. Mike Roussell, author of "The 6 Pillars of Nutrition - A Simple Diet Solution for Permanent Weight Loss, Better Health, and a Longer Life." His solution to figuring out when you eat your carbs for the best results: "Consume all your carbs for the day during and after your workout, whenever that is. The rest of the day focus on protein-rich foods, green vegetables, and fat." Here's a sample day to help you lose weight or stay lean while enjoying healthy carbs to recover more easily from your workout:
- Breakfast: One South Beach Living Multi Grain Wrap filled with low-fat ricotta cheese. Heat in microwave until cheese melts, then top with Stonewall Kitchen Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and drink water as well, because the caffeine is dehydrating.
- Head to the gym for your workout, drinking water before and after your Zumba dance class or other exercise.
- Enjoy a carb-rich snack that contains fiber, which will keep you full longer, such as Fiber One Chewy Oats bars, an apple and water.
- For lunch, go for protein, green veggies and fat, such as Swanson Premium Chicken Breast on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. Use a salad dressing with olive oil, such as Newman's Own - Balsamic Vinaigrette & Olive Oil & Vinegar Salad Dressing.
- Mid-afternoon: Enjoy a protein-rich snack such as Newman's Own High Protein organic pretzels. Pair with a piece of low-fat string cheese.
- For dinner, consider fish, such as Wild Planet Wild Alaskan Salmon, lots of green veggies and a salad drizzled with olive oil. What's for dessert? Try low-carb, high protein, sugar-free Better Bowls Chocolate Pudding.