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20 Healthy Pre and Post Workout Snacks You Should Try

20 Healthy Pre and Post Workout Snacks You Should Try

After a peaceful night’s sleep, the first thing you want in the morning is a plate of warm toast with butter and a sunny side up. Many of us rummage the fridge for food, trying to think of what to eat! If you happen to hit the gym early in the morning, you have to plan your breakfast beforehand. It is not a good idea to have a filling breakfast before you start exercising, but you can always have an energy bar. It is important that you eat only healthy snacks and not just anything that fills your stomach.

Stock up your fridge with chicken or tuna sandwiches, soups, salads, kale chips (low calorie), dips and homemade tortillas, and a packet of walnuts and almonds. This will prevent the early morning rush and the lazy tendency to skip breakfast. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you shouldn’t skip it altogether. Divide your breakfast into pre-gym meal and post-gym meal.

Pre-Workout Snacks

These snacks shouldn’t be too heavy on the stomach. Opt for light and healthy options that will give you energy. If you like to try new foods every day, you will be surprised to find several options! Here are some examples.

1. Yogurt Parfait

This is a very delicious snack you can have anytime. Yogurt is rich in calcium, which is great for your bones. You can add seasonal fruits and granola. Fruits and granola will give you the necessary dietary fiber and vitamins.

2. Oats

It is the healthiest cereal to begin the day with! You can have it like porridge or just combine dry, steel-cut oats with dry fruits and have it before you start to work out.

3. A Berry Shake

Blend a cup of frozen berries and ice and make your own fruit shake! It is yummy and will give you instant energy.

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Blueberry Smoothie

    4. Eggs and Toast

    This classic combination is light on the stomach and a great way to begin the day.

    5. Waffles

    You can spread some maple or strawberry syrup on the waffles, before you munch on them. The waffles are light and yummy; the taste will simply linger in the mouth!

    6. Wheat Pasta

    Always select wheat pasta because it is low in gluten. You can have it with both red or white sauce and your favorite vegetables. Make sure that the white sauce is low fat; otherwise the pasta will become heavy on the stomach.

    7. Chocolate Muffin

    If you are a great fan of baked products, then muffins are a great choice for you. The chocolate muffin is an instant mood lifter. To make muffins a really healthy snack, you can make them with multigrain wheat instead of plain flour. This will make the muffin high on dietary fiber and low in gluten.

    8. Salad

    Combine shredded fresh lettuce with steamed mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, cucumber or some lightly pickled zucchini, feta cheese, and avocado. Season it with just salt, pepper, a dash of lemon juice and a light sprinkle of olive oil.You can add some dry fruits and nuts to add to the crunch.

    9. Apples

    Apples are low in saturated fat and cholesterol and are a great source of Vitamin C and E. You can have apple slices with peanut butter or just munch on a whole apple. You can go for these options if you love apples. Similarly you can try a cup of sliced bananas, cantaloupe and oranges.

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    Berry

      10. Corn Tortillas or Kale Chips with Mexican dip

      Opt for the baked kale chips and corn tortillas, which is less fattening. You can make the tortillas at home or purchase them. Make some homemade dip from low fat mayonnaise and chili flakes for a spicy kick! You can add some jalapeno also. You can also have the tortillas with spicy hummus dip. For a healthier option, cut vegetables like carrots and beans, steam them slightly and have it with hummus.

       

      Post-Workout Snacks

      The whole purpose of exercise is to build muscle strength. After an hour of grueling routine, you need to refuel yourself. To get maximum benefits from work out, you need to eat properly. Follow these simple eating tips to stay fit. The food needs to fill your stomach! Here are some yummy snacks that are easy to make.

      11. Avocado Filled With Cottage Cheese

      Remove the seed from the avocado and fill it with cottage cheese. Avocadoes are fortified with 19 essential amino acids, carotenoids, Vitamin C and E, Selenium, Zinc and phytoserols. You can experiment with many avocado-based snacks like chilled avocado soup, crab avocado quesadillas, tomato and avocado toasts, and eggs baked in avocado.

      Avacados and eggs

        Image credit: Steven Guzzardi

        12. Pita Bread and Hummus

        Hummus is made of chickpeas and it goes really well with pita bread. It adds variety to your normal post-gym meal

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        13. Chicken Hash

        Combine diced chicken, butternut squash and apples and roast it in olive. Season with salt and pepper. Make a big bowl of chicken hash and store it in the fridge.

        14. Scrambled Eggs

        Use 2–3 eggs to make your scrambled eggs and spice them up with onion and bell peppers. You can have it a sandwich as well—just use multigrain or brown bread.

        15. Spinach Smoothie

        Spinach is the biggest source of veg proteins. Combine spinach with vanilla flavored yogurt, almond milk and banana to make a thick green smoothie. It is a great way to relax post workout.

        16. Pancakes with Maple Syrup

        Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberries

          Image credit: Whitney

          Make a batter with rice flour or plain flour, eggs, milk, low fat butter, baking powder, vanilla essence, powdered sugar and pinch of salt. Grease a non-stick frying pan with a pat of butter and sprinkle some water on it. If the water starts jumping from the pan with a sizzle, then give the batter. Pour about 3 tablespoons of batter on the greased pan. Cook for two minutes until the pancake is golden in colour. You can add variety by adding dry fruits and candies to the batter. Have it with maple syrup or chocolate sauce. The pancakes will give you the necessary energy post workout.

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          17. Quinoa and Chicken Mix

          Take some boneless chicken pieces and smear them in salt and pepper. Now heat some olive oil in the pan and sear it. When the chicken cools down to room temperature dice it. Cook the quinoa and vegetables separately. Now blend quinoa, vegetables and diced chicken. Your high-protein snack is ready!

          18. Soy Nuggets

          Soybean is the richest source of plant protein. Take some soy granules and soak them in water for say, two hours. When the granules become soft, squeeze out the water from the granules and place the soaked nuggets in a separate bowl. Now add salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom powder, chopped green chilies and red chili powder (if you like it really spicy), and chopped garlic, cilantro and onions. Cover the bowl with a foil or cling wrap and let it sit for half an hour. Beat one egg and spread some breadcrumbs on a newspaper or a flat plate. Take some soy mixture on your palm and make a ball, then flatten the top using slight pressure. Dip it in egg and then roll it in the breadcrumbs and shallow fry it till golden brown. After frying place it on tissue paper to soak the extra oil. Serve it piping hot with ketchup.

          19. Minty Pea Dip with Pretzel Chips

          Good pretzel chips are readily available. All you need to make is the pea dip. Mash the frozen peas after steaming them slightly into a butter smooth consistency. Now add some chopped mint leaves for a more refreshing taste. You can store the dip in the fridge and use it later.

          20. Tuna Salad on Bagel

          Add some low-fat mayonnaise on tuna. Then add chopped garlic, onions, green chilies, and cilantro and blend it well. Spread some goat cheese on the bagel and then the tuna spread and simply enjoy!

           

          Mentioned above are some options you can try, or you can create your own innovative breakfast and snack menus. If you are leaving for work just after a gym session, then you need to stock your office drawers with tidbits like choco tropical trail mix, crackers, protein or granola bars, muffins and cakes. Always carry a bottle of protein shake with you. Nowadays, you can find many health bars offering different types of energy drinks, so you can try those too!

          You need carbohydrates before you start a work out. The trick is to have a blend of complex and simple carbs, so that the release of energy is slow and steady. Always keep yourself hydrated; try to drink 16–20 ounces of water 1–2 hours before you start workout. You can also sip sports drinks during your workout. Whatever you eat before exercise gets stored in the body as glycogen and it fuels your intense two-hour workouts. Here’s to wishing all my readers that you always stay healthy and strong!

          Featured photo credit: Healthy Snacks via shutterstock.com

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          Published on November 14, 2018

          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

          With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

          For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

          In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

          Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

          Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

          It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

          For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

          Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

          Symptoms of Fatigue

          Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

          • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
          • mental blocks
          • lack of motivation
          • headache
          • dizziness
          • muscle weakness
          • slowed reflexes and responses
          • impaired decision-making and judgement
          • moodiness, such as irritability
          • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
          • reduced immune system function
          • blurry vision
          • short-term memory problems
          • poor concentration
          • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

          Causes of Fatigue

          The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

          • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
          • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
          • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
          • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

          Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

          Medical Causes of Fatigue

          If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

          Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

          Anemia

          Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

          Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

          There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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          This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

          Diabetes

          Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

          Sleep Apnea

          Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

          Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

          Thyroid disease

          An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

          Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

          • Lack of sleep
          • Too much sleep 
          • Alcohol and drugs 
          • Sleep disturbances 
          • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
          • Poor diet 

          Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

          • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
          • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
          • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
          • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

          Psychological Causes of Fatigue

          Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

          • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
          • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
          • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

          How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

          Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

          1. Tell The Truth

          Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

          To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

          Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

          The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

          One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

          • How you feel
          • What time of day it is
          • What may have contributed to your fatigue
          • How your mind and body reacts

          This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

          2. Reduce Your Commitments

          When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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          If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

          When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

          Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

          3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

          If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

          Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

          If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

          Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

          Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

          4. Express More Gratitude

          Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

          It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

          Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

          5. Focus On Yourself

          Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

          There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

          But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

          We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

          6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

          Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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          Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

          The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

          Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

          7. Take a Power Nap

          When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

          Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

          This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

          8. Take More Exercise

          The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

          Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

          The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

          You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

          9. Get More Quality Sleep

          To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

          Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

          My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

          10. Improve Your Diet

          Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

          Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

          On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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          To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

          Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

          Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

          11. Manage Your Stress Levels

          Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

          When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

          Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

          My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

          12. Get Hydrated

          Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

          Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

          If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

          The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

          The Bottom Line

          These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

          If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

          Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
          [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
          [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
          [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
          [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
          [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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