Whole-wheat Raspberry (Oh-So-Good!) Scones and the Pre-workout Meal

If you haven’t guessed by now, I LOVE breakfast and I love baking, thus why most of the recipes I have shared with all of you so far have been breakfast ones. Soon I’ll incorporate other recipes and expand beyond the realm of delicious breakfasts, but before I do that, I have yet another superb one for you: Whole-wheat raspberry (oh-so-good!) scones! I’ve been eating variations of the overnight oatmeal recipe (Monday through Friday) for a few weeks now and feel that it is time for me to expand to something else. The other reason why I want to try a different breakfast is to see how my swimming is affected. I’m perfectly full and satisfied with my overnight oatmeal, but when I’m swimming I tend to burp a lot. Also, I’ve noticed that I’m completely exhausted after swimming, which makes for a hard workday (especially those 5:30a.m. to 10:30p.m. days). So I’m wondering if this has something to do with what I am eating pre-workout, or if this has more to do with my swimming and other workouts.

Before I share this awesome recipe with you though, I’d like to talk about pre-workout and what you should eat. I’ve discussed post-workout, so I wanted to explore the pre-workout meal, specifically before a morning workout or a race. Do you eat before or don’t you? What is the best thing to eat? How much should you eat? How long before the workout/race do you eat? These are the questions burning in my mind and I hope to answer for us.

(There is so much research on nutrition and different practices depending on distance/duration of exercise, that I will only discuss some basics in this post and delve deeper into Ironman specific nutrition at a later date).

Do you eat before a morning workout or if it’s race day, do you eat that morning?
First of all, we need to have some understanding of what happens to our body in terms of glycogen storage, depletion, and resupply. The reason why you eat in the morning is to replenish liver glycogen stores, which have been depleted throughout the night as you slept. Muscle glycogen, or the first fuel recruited when exercise begins, remains intact overnight. Refueling properly after your last workout will ensure that you’re muscle glycogen levels are primed, these stores constitute about 80% of your glycogen stores (see blog post Post-workout Recovery: What You Need to Know, for details on refueling post-workout: https://ironwomandiaries.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/post-workout-recovery/). Simply put, your stomach might be screaming, “I need food,” but your muscles are saying, “We’re ready for action!” Thus, some might argue that eating before a workout is not necessary, however the consensus seems to be that eating will allow you to perform better not only physically but mentally as well.

What is the best thing to eat before a workout or the morning of your race? And, how much, as in calories, should you eat?
The purpose of eating before a workout is to store enough carbohydrates to get you through the workout. According to Joe Friel author of “The Triathlete’s Training Bible”, eating enough carbohydrates pre-workout is “especially important for early-morning sessions.” Consuming between 200-400 calories, largely from a moderate-glycemic index (see list below), carbohydrate-rich food, is optimal for fueling your body pre-morning workout. Also keep in mind that this pre-workout morning meal should consist of roughly 70% carbohydrates. Foods that are high in fiber, simple sugars, and high fat should be avoided. (You don’t want the uncomfortable urge to have to use the bathroom part way through your swim, you’ve got enough to worry about, like breathing). Consuming high glycemic carbohydrates such as those simple sugars within three hours of exercise will cause you to experience negative effects on your performance. I won’t go into those now, just know that it will not only hinder your performance, but also, can be harmful to your health.

How long before the workout/race do you eat?
Surprisingly (at least to me) eating at least 2-3 hours before your workout/race is ideal, for exercising longer than 90 minutes. However, rest is just as important so getting up at 3a.m. for a 5:30a.m. swim is not the best idea. Instead, and for workouts lasting less than 90 minutes, Friel suggests taking a bottle of your favorite sports drink or two gel packs with 12 ounces of water to the workout and consume about 10 minutes before you begin. This will at least give you the fuel you need to power through your workout, keeping in mind this bit of advice is for your average workout 60-90 minutes in length, not brick or race day. So what about race day? Clearly your rituals are going to be different on race day, but your eating habits will be similar on brick days and should be rehearsed on these days. For a short course race the more time you have before the race begins the more you can eat. Generally, according to Friel, plan on consuming about 200 calories for every hour prior to race time.

Whew! With so much information to absorb let’s summarize the main points.

  • When exercising for durations lasting under 90 minutes, consuming between 200-400 calories, largely from a moderate glycemic index, carbohydrate rich food will power you through. Think your favorite sports drink or gel packs when in a time crunch, or unsweetened applesauce and a bagel 1-2 hours prior.
  • For brick days or when exercising will last longer than 90 minutes, eat 2-3 hours prior. (This will allow enough time for insulin and blood glucose to normalize. This way you won’t be at risk for increased glycogen depletion).
  • Always prior to working out or on race day, avoid foods that are high in fiber, simple sugars, and high fat.
  • Short course race day, if time allows, consume about 200 calories for every hour prior to race time.
  • The bottom line: Focus on eating complex carbohydrate-rich foods for your pre-race or pre-workout meal; you will perform better both mentally and physically during your workout.

Low glycemic index foods (30-50%):

Apples/juice/sauce                          Pasta (whole-wheat)
Beans, baked                                  Pears
Grapes                                            Tomato soup
Kiwifruit                                           Yogurt
Oranges

Moderate glycemic index foods (50-80%):

Bagels                                             Oatmeal
Bananas                                          Pineapple
Black bean soup                              Popcorn
Bread, pita/rye/wheat                      Potatoes, boiled/mashed/sweet
Corn                                                Pumpkin
Crackers                                         Raisins
Mango                                            Rice, brown
Muffins                                            Watermelon
Oat bran                                          Yams

Whole-wheat Raspberry (Oh-So-Good!) Scones Whole-wheat raspberry scone on plate.

2 cups whole-wheat flour
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup large old fashioned rolled oats (not quick or instant)
¼ cup natural applesauce
3 tbsp. cold butter, cut in cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup + 2 tbsp. light vanilla soy milk
1¼ cup raspberries (As always, I used frozen since raspberries are not yet in season. Do not thaw them if you decide to use frozen as well).

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. (I always forget that I don’t have parchment paper and wax paper smokes in our oven at the temperature. So wanting to be the crafty baker, instead of greasing my pans with olive oil, which you could also do, I lined my baking sheet with tin foil! It actually worked pretty well. I just had to be careful when peeling off the scones. The point: if you do not have parchment paper, no worries. You can either grease your pan or use my tin foil method).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and oats. Next, mix in applesauce the best you can. Take your butter cubes and either press with your fingers into the mixture (way more fun and one less dish!) or use a blender to cut butter in. The mixture will resemble coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk soy milk, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture over dry ingredients and stir or fold in until dough starts to come together (there will still be floury patches). Stir in raspberries. Dough may still be somewhat floury.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured clean counter and gently knead about 6 times, until dough is cohesive (raspberries will start to break up; this is fine). Pat dough into a circle of about 1½” thick. Using a knife, divide the dough into three sections, and then make half of an “x” in each section to result in nine equal pieces.
  5. Transfer scones to prepared baking sheets and bake about 22 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating pans once during baking. Transfer to wire racks to cool. I like to eat mine slightly warm each morning with either a bit of almond butter, a small spoonful of Greek yogurt, or just plain.

I know you’ll really enjoy these scones. They have such great texture and flavor, not to mention they just look like they taste good! Also, after my swim this morning I didn’t feel completely exhausted or starving—bonus! I hope you’re learning new things with me as I learn them. Fueling our bodies is so important to our performance. Bon Appétit!

Four whole-wheat raspberry scones on plate.Printable recipe

Sources: Friel, J. (2009). The triathlete’s training bible. (3rd ed.). Boulder: VeloPress.; http://www.hammernutrition.com/hnt/1279/;
http://www.askmen.com/top_10/fitness_top_ten/24_fitness_list.html;
http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/To-Eat-or-Not-to-Eat-Pre-Workout; http://www.foodess.com/2012/09/whole-wheat-oatmeal-raspberry-scones/

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Overtraining: Are You a Victim?

Okay, I’ve been MIA (missing in action) this week I apologize. The following are not excuses, merely just a glimpse into the recent events of my life. I work a full time job, recently decided to also get a part-time job, training twice a day (or at least once a day if I can’t fit in two), try to keep up on my blogging (which I love, oh by the way; writing is a great way to relieve stress and relax), taking a certification course to better my resume, and try to spend time with my amazing husband and dog while also trying to maintain somewhat of a social life with our friends. So with all of these things, with life going on, how does one stay motivated? I’ll be honest, this last week was hard and my motivation was severely lacking so my training suffered. But I started to question whether it was all of these things dragging me down or if it was something else entirely. Why would all of this affect me this week when the previous week I had great workouts and motivation of a goddess? Could this be a sign of possible overtraining? Maybe, but what exactly is overtraining and how do you know if you’re a victim? (Or is it just your hypochondriac tendencies kicking in)?

7 signs you are a victim of overtraining:

  1. Sudden drop in performance or you repeatedly fail to complete your normal workout. If you are beginning to go backwards with your workouts, as in, you should be continuing to go faster, harder, stronger, but instead you’re slower, softer (that’s all I could come up with for opposite of harder), weaker, there’s a good chance you’re overtraining.
  2. You’ve reached a weight-loss plateau/you’re gaining weight (and I don’t mean muscle mass). We all know that working out is a great way to lose weight and that too much or too often can cause weight loss, but few understand that the opposite effect can also happen. This is because the body’s hormonal balance has been tipped. Too much cortisol (released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids) increases insulin resistance and fat deposition, mostly around the midsection. Are you noticing a loss in definition, as in, you’re training like a goddess but your six-pack is fading?
  3. Family and friends are avoiding you because you are moody. Feeling irritable more than a day or two after working out may be an early sign that you are overtraining.
  4. Feeling absolutely exhausted all of the time, needing naps in the afternoon, and dragging through the day with the sole focus on resting your head and body in bed. Exercising releases endorphins (these make you happy!) and often you feel more energized and healthy post-workout. If instead you are feeling like you want to crawl back into bed, are so tired you can’t focus, and instead of the happy, healthy feeling normally experienced, you feel like the moody, irritable person in sign three above you need to take a look at your training and recovery schedule.
  5. Are you constantly suffering from a cold? Overtraining can negatively affect your immune system. Cortisol and adrenaline (those darn stress hormones again) raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels and suppress the immune system. With moderate exercise the immune system is strengthened, but if you are noticing an increase in cold systems and sore throats your immune system has probably been compromised.
  6. Pain in muscles and joints and an increase in injuries. Take note of how you are feeling each day to help you notice downward trends and rank your level of soreness. If you can barely make it down the stairs and every step you take hurts, you may need to take a few days of rest.
  7. Even though you are exhausted you are experiencing insomnia. Odd yes, but has been shown to be the case in many athletes that over train.

This list is not an all or nothing list. It is important to pay attention to your own body and know what your limits are and what your norms are. If you start to experience any of the above take a look at your training and recovery schedule to see if overtraining could be a possibility. Remember, rest is a good thing! As Kristen Dieffenbach, Ph.D., an assistant professor of athletic coaching education at West Virginia University said, “You don’t get stronger because you did an awesome workout, you get stronger because you ate right, slept, and recovered afterward.”

Sources: http: www.marksdailyapple.com/overtraining/#axzz2OMvZRZ21; http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm; http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/are-you-overtraining?page=single;http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/9-reasons-skip-your-workout-sometimes; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol

Post-Workout Recovery: What You Need to Know

Fueling your body, and what you fuel your body with, after your workout is essential for your body to recover and rebuild and will ultimately affect your next workout and training program. There is a 30-45 minute window for athletes to maximize recovery. Those athletes who properly recover soon after working out have a distinct advantage over those who do not. The key to post-workout recovery is to remember these 3 R’s: Rehydrate, Refuel, and Rebuild.

  1. Rehydrate: The best way to know how much to rehydrate your body post-workout is to weigh yourself before and after you exercise. The general rule of thumb is drink 24 oz. of fluid for each pound lost during exercise. If you weigh more than before your workout, you most likely are drinking too much water. Keep in mind that the goal is to stay properly hydrated while exercising, therefore maintaining the same weight. So, for each pound lost during activity, drink an additional 16 oz. of fluid the next time you exercise. For example, if you drank 8 oz. while exercising for 60 minutes and lost one pound, your goal is to drink an additional 16 oz. during your next workout, totaling 24 oz. of fluid intake while exercising. Ultimately post-workout, monitoring your urine to make sure it is clear (meaning hydrated) will determine if you are drinking enough fluids.
  2. Refuel: In order to refuel your body you need to eat carbohydrates to replace your muscle and liver glycogen to refuel your energy stores. You also need carbohydrates to produce insulin in order to drive muscle building.
  3. Rebuild: In order to help the growth of new muscle tissue, and repair existing tissue that may have been torn, it is important to also consume protein. Exercise drains critical amino acids, which are the building blocks for protein used to build and repair muscles. So how much protein should you eat post-workout? The recommendation for the proper ratio of carbohydrate to protein is 4:1 after endurance workouts (2:1 carbohydrate to protein following strength workouts). It is commonly recommended that athletes consume between 15-25 grams of protein post-workout. Also, according to Dr. Michael Colgan, author of “Optimum Sports Nutrition”, athletes typically need to consume more protein throughout the day. Colgan recommends consuming 1.4 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass as the optimal amount for endurance athletes to consume per day.

Many athletes may experience appetite loss post-workout as exercise can act as an appetite suppressant. Therefore, liquid meals are often more appealing as a post-workout recovery option. Liquids are also absorbed more quickly than solid foods resulting in better recovery. Choosing your fluid wisely is essential. The best options include: 100% fruit juice (“Antioxidant rich foods help reduce inflammation and decrease muscle soreness. One of the easiest ways to get an adequate amount of antioxidants and carbohydrates is by drinking tart cherry juice. Research shows that drinking tart cherry juice aids athletic performance and comes highly recommended for recovery foods. Following juice consumption with a form of protein would be recommended” http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Recovery-Foods-that-Ease-Muscle-Soreness), non-fat or 1% chocolate milk or soy milk, protein shakes with fruit mixed in, or sports drinks. Chocolate milk has actually been shown to provide some of the best post-workout recovery benefits as it not only provides carbohydrates, but also electrolytes, sodium, and potassium lost in sweat. Small snack options are also great in assisting recovery and include foods like: Greek yogurt, energy bars, crackers and peanut or almond butter, or cottage cheese and fruit with a small nutrient-rich muffin. I personally enjoy a protein shake made with chocolate soy milk with added fruit. I have included a few of my favorite shakes below.

Apple Almond Butter (Super Fabulous) Protein Shake

1 cup light vanilla soy milk
1/2 an apple of your choice (I use either Honey Crisp or Granny Smith as I like the tart, crisp taste)
Protein powder (I use 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder. Use whatever protein powder you prefer and measure to equal between 15-25 grams of protein as is recommended; see above).
1 tbsp. almond butter
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Enjoy!
Printable recipe

Chocolate Banana Almond Butter (Shut your mouth good!) Protein Shake

1 cup light chocolate soy milk
1 banana
Protein powder (I use 3 tablespoons vanilla protein powder. Use whatever protein powder you prefer and measure to equal between 15-25 grams of protein as is recommended; see above).
1 tbsp. almond butter
2 tbsp. uncooked old fashioned oats
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth. Happy eating!
Printable recipe

Sources: http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/5-High-Protein-Foods-for-Optimal-Recovery.htm; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Recovery-Foods-that-Ease-Muscle-Soreness; http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewMiscArticle.aspx?TabId=1596&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en&mid=196&ItemId=2640; http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/hydrationandfluid/a/ProperHydration.htm; http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/healthandlifestyle/exercise-recovery/186#C6; http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hydrate.html; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/How-to-Hydrate-Before-During-and-After-a-Workout?page=2; http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/food-rebuild-muscle-after-exercise-3987.html; http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Your-Post-Workout-Recovery-Ritual.htm

Staying Motivated in the Winter

Today I want to talk about my struggles (not sure if ‘struggle’ is exactly the word, but let’s go with that for now) training for a triathlon as a Wisconsinite. I love working out in the summer, being overly hot, feeling the pavement under my feet running or flying underneath me while riding. But winter, here in the frozen tundra, there is no training outside (I am not about to be one of those crazy people running in -5 degree F weather, no way in hell. If you are one of these people, you’re crazy, but also brave!) I don’t even like to walk to my car, in the garage, in the winter. (See where I’m going with this?) So, getting myself to the gym takes one extra push of motivation each day.

One thing that gives me that extra push is having a training schedule. A training schedule keeps me committed to what I want to accomplish and I treat it just like I would a job, I have to be there, no excuses. Another push comes from my swim coach. (I have a swim coach because, like a lot of triathletes, my swimming is my weakest area. Ironic, considering I grew up on Lake Superior literally just a couple blocks down the hill). She gives me techniques and skills to work on that motivate me to go to the gym early in the morning and practice. Skills help me focus on one or two small things each time I go to swim. Without those, I wouldn’t feel like I accomplished much, that my time there was wasted not really knowing if I was doing it “right.”

But let’s dig deeper, why do I push myself even on those days (or winter months…) to train. It’s the finish line. It’s being able to envision myself crossing the finish line of Ironman Arizona 2014 hearing the announcer say, “Libby Becker, YOU ARE an Ironman.” So if you have a day when you want to quit, or just don’t feel like doing it, think of the finish line. Think of whatever it is that truly motivates you to get out there and train.

Please feel free to leave what motivates you in the comments below. Sometimes hearing what motivates others, helps to motivate ourselves.