Hi friends, it was so great to read all of your comments on Crossfit and strength training. You are very right that Crossfit ain’t cheap but thankfully I have worked it into my budget (bye bye shopping). You are also right that getting totally jacked is not what I want. It certainly works for some but I’m good with little muscles.

Saying this, I have been experimenting with my meals and snacks lately. As I told you yesterday, I am not totally sold on the “Crossfit nutrition philosophy”. I’m not all of sudden going to start eating steak, downing protein shakes and giving up peanut butter. But I am all about learning and trying new things to figure out what works best for me and my body and I have been hungryyyyy. Like reallyyyyy hungry.

I like to think I know how to “eat healthy” but I wasn’t exactly sure how to do this for weight training. Well the short version is to eat more. Easy enough right? Okay not going to lie… I was hesitant at first. Cue: “fat fears.” I immediately associated eating more with gaining “bad” weight and bulking up.  

Stupid

[Image source]

Stupid right? But I’m always honest with ya…

As per my Crossfit coach’s request, I have been writing down everything I have been eating. I have found this to be extremely helpful in seeing what my body needs, which has been the hardest part. I am still trying to figure out how much food to eat. Sometimes my breakfast isn’t big enough and then my tummy grumbles an hour later so I eat more. Sometimes my dinner stuffs me so I don’t have a snack before bed. Weight lifting and exercise requires the proper fuel aka FOOD so we gotta give what the body asks for… aka listen to it and feed it well. I know this is easier said than done and I will write a follow-up post about this once I better gather my thoughts so stay tuned.

Anyways, I have only been strength training for a few weeks but I have been trying three “new-to-me” approaches to fuelling my body with what it needs and with a bit of planning and prep, it has been totally do-able.

1. Eating before a workout: I find it hard to eat in the early hours of the morning, when I workout. However the more I have learned about pre-workout nutrition, especially in terms of strength training, I have been trying to eat a bit of protein and fat before Crossfit. Even if that’s at 5am.

I have been having either half of a banana with peanut butter or a hard boiled egg with a few nuts. Ideally I am trying to eat a combination of protein and fat pre-workout.

Hard boiled eggs and cashews

2. Eating more earlier: I know for me, dinner is my largest meal of the day. Some believe that eating more food later in the day actually hinders digestion and lean muscle development. Of course everyone is different but I’ve been testing the waters. I am trying to eat larger meals at breakfast and lunch and more substantial snacks throughout the day. So far I still don’t have much muscle (hah!) but it has mostly helped ward off the night-time snack monster – although I more often than not still have a “bedtime” snack.

After a workout/for breakfast, I have been eating more protein (usually more eggs) and fat but adding fruit or another carbohydrate source. Like, 2 hard boiled eggs, pistachios, almonds and half of a grapefruit. Or eggs, berries, veggies and avocado — it’s been on sale! Or my coconut and banana pancake [recipe].

Nuts grapefruit egg breakfast

Lunch has been the most challenging. I have basically been switching what I would eat for dinner to now eating it for lunch. It feels weird and unnatural but I’m rolling with it right now. I’ve also been trying to make them meatier… minus the meat. For me that means having a larger portion of protein and lots of veggies but I still am figuring this out. I usually have fish for lunch with veggies, fat and carbs. Like: salmon, sweet potato, 1/2 an avocado and brussels sprouts.

Salmon brussels avocado sweet potato

I have also been having more substantial snacks throughout the day: banana with nut butter, a bowl of oatmeal, veggies and hummus, Larabar and fruit. Dinner is typically beans or lentils with fruit/veggies and a healthy fat… or sometimes oatmeal.

I’m usually still a bit hungry after dinner so I have a snack with tea. Since stocking up on my TJs goodies, I have been having a handful (or two) of trail mix…

Trail mix

…or a few dark chocolate honey mints.

Dark chocolate honey mints

3. Decreasing spikes in insulin level by eating longer lasting energy foods: I am still figuring out what this exactly means. But to my knowledge it means focussing on eating foods (like low-glycemic foods) that digest slower and sustain energy. Any help here?! Still working on this…

Tomorrow, for What I Ate Wednesday, I will post a whole day of recent eats. Okay time to go eat! I’m probably not even kidding…

 

Questions of the day…

How do you fuel your strength training workouts?

Are you a snacker?

What do you like to have for lunch?

 

 

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56 thoughts on “Fueling the Body: Eat. All. The. Food.

  1. swissfitchick

    I wouldn’t mind being there and eating all the food with you!! EVerything looks delicious – that salmon?? YUM!
    I can’t eat before my 6am workout. I know that’s not ideal, but it makes me feel terrible, I tried it, so I roll without – but I make sure I have a protein shake with aminos and glutamin immediately after the workout and my eggy oats about 2 hours later – so far it works for me. I am not the biggest snacker, but I definitely need something after dinner – as a dessert and bedtime snack.

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      Even though I am eating more throughout the day, I still have a dessert after dinner too. It was not easy to start eating before my early workouts but I forced myself and I felt fine. You gotta do what works for you and it sounds like your post-workout shake is perfect!

      Reply

  2. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    The biggest thing I am sure to do on a lifting day is eat protein within 45 minutes of my workout. And I don’t mean “a handful of almonds” protein. I mean, 6oz chicken breast. This has served me well. My muscles need it to rebuild. No, I’m not always in the mood for it, but I look at it as part of the process. Why would i get up at 5am and bust my ass lifting and then not reap the full benefits of the workout by not eating the proper food after??? So chicken and cheerios is my breakfast on the way to work after a lifting session. :) For girls, it’s actually really, really hard to get huge. We just WON’T unless we’re eating like 3,000 calories a day.

    Reply

  3. Kelly @ Femme Fitale

    I really enjoyed this recap!! As you know, I just did the whole adventure with paleo and it opened my eyes to a few things. I’m with you on the lunch situation. I really need to make a better effort at eating a meat protein (i.e.: chicken or fish) mid-day. I am used to having my largest meal at dinner time as well, since that’s when Adam is home from work and hungry.
    It’s so hard figuring out what works in terms of our eating.
    I’m interested in seeing how you are liking cross fit after you get a few more weeks under your belt!

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      It is certainly an adjustment and I only have to worry about myself so with Adam I can see how that will be difficult. But today I had a big protein packed breakfast and lunch and for dinner wasn’t all that hungry so just went with some oats, nuts and fruit. That did the trick!

      Reply

  4. Jessi @ Tasty Table Topics

    I definitely love that working out hard makes me eat more ;) When I’m strength training or running in the morning, I always start the day with a half cup of oatmeal with nuts, fruit and sometimes I’ll add a tbsp of coffee creamer for flavor. It’s SO good :)

    Reply

  5. Kim @ BusyBod

    For a long time, lunch was always my biggest meal of the day because it was the time I was the hungriest. I still front load my eating, but not in one big meal. Again, it’s just how my body is. I wake up hungry and I stay mostly hungry until early afternoon, so eating something every couple hours works for me (but not for everyone!!!). Then if I’m cooking, I have a full dinner, but if John and I are eating separately, I’ve been known to have a veggie or rice cakes or a yogurt and nothing else. This happens mostly on days when I teach at night – all that jumping around in Zumba jumbles my tummy and messes with my appetite. As for fueling strength workouts, I usually focus more on protein after than what I eat before, but I have been reading up recently about whether I should eat before.

    On a tangentially related note, I just wanted to say that I so hear you on fat fears. I always say I feel like we are in the same place in our journey and I think that is yet another sign. Every time I think I’m past them, I realize I’m not. Especially when someone suggests I eat more or workout less. I don’t mean unhealthy people hating my lifestyle. I mean loved ones and sometimes doctors. Don’t worry, I’m not doing anything unhealthy, I just mean people who with my best interest at heart think my optimum health might require those changes. I balk at the thought, and fat fears are definitely to blame. I’m so proud of you for fighting the fears and fueling up your body the way you need to. I’m always here if those old demons are rearing and you need to talk. You’re amazing! xoxo

    Reply

  6. Erin @ The Almond Eater

    I am very much a snacker and always have been. My post today is actually about snacks! I can imagine switching your diet around is tricky, but it’s cool that you’re testing the waters to see what works for you. I always eat before a workout but just something small–usually half of a banana or a granola bar–just something to get me going. Since I’m just now mildly getting back into lifting, I’m still eating the same, but I have found that working out in early mornings makes me hungrier throughout the day, so I make sure to have healthy snacks on hand at all times so I’m not starving while at work.

    Reply

  7. Becky @ Olives n Wine

    Okay, this is nothing related to your post – sorry, I’m being one of “those” commenters today… but how do you get your eggs to peel so nicely?! Whenever I hard boil eggs it is basically a disaster zone in my kitchen ;) And on snacking, I love a good snack but I have found that it makes me less hungry/appreciative of full meals so I’ve been trying to eat smaller snacks in order to be hungry at meal time!

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      You made me giggle! Okay for the eggs: once they are done, immediately pour cold water on them. I have found that does the trick. I also peel them right away, so after a few runs of cold water they are cool and ready to peel. Hope that makes sense :)

      Reply

  8. Heather @fitncookies

    I totally understand the eating deal being hard. It’s really hard to switch meals around and have bigger ones earlier when you’re working and have to pack it all! Haha It just works that dinner is larger, but like you said, it really shouldn’t be. I love how you have been incorporating more fats and proteins for the workouts. I really need to do that. Itypically don’t eat anything before a workout if it’s in the morning. I just do better on an empty stomach, but each person is different. if I was going to Crossfit, I would probably need a snack or two before!

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      You are so right that everyone is different. For some of my early morning cardio workouts, I don’t always eat but I feel fine. I have definitely found the addition of protein and fat to be super helpful in keeping me full.

      Reply

  9. Ang @ Nutty for Life

    I find that my workouts are always better when eat something beforehand, but not too much because then I feel sick. I also always try to recover with mostly real food, although after I lift weights I do like to use some protein powder in a smoothie. I have also been eating more fats lately, and I find that I’m not as hungry throughout the day. It’s kind of amazing. I had the same fear when I started doing that – the fat makes you fat fear – but it’s so not true. Robyn over at The Real Life RD has been pretty inspiring to me to eat more, and more fats.

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      I love Robyn’s blog and I totally agree. The more I learn about fat, the less I am “scared” of it. It is comforting to know you felt the same way :)

      Reply

  10. Amy @ Long Drive Journey

    I find that I feel better when I eat more (at least when I am working out), so I just don’t let it bother me. I’m eating good food and I’m not gaining lots of weight, so I’m rolling with it. I’m glad you are too! I am definitely a snacker, but I’d say that I always eat a bigger lunch than dinner. I guess it’s because breakfast is usually smaller, so I am making up for not having eaten all night. Then for dinner, I am hungry but find that I can’t put away quite as much food. I generally do have a small snack after dinner (one piece of chocolate, one cookie, one muffin) and that fills me up great. It’s definitely a balancing act, but thankfully your body is this wonderful instrument that lets you know what you should do. You just have to listen to it!

    Reply

  11. Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen

    It’s interesting reading about all of the changes you are making! I know there are some changes I probably should make (like eating more earlier and less at dinner), but it can be so hard to change an engrained pattern of eating! I’ve been strength training a lot more too lately (3-4 times a week) but I haven’t really changed much about my style of eating. I try to be mindful to eat something with protein immediately after though!

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      Chels it IS so hard to change an engrained pattern of eating haha but I really want to stay committed and do what (I think) is best for my body and goals. I started small: eggs after a workout. I would usually have something sweet so I began to force myself to have savory with a bit of sweet (like fruit) too. Now I actually want the savory breakfasts! We just get so used to something and I think we are wired to resist change.

      Reply

  12. Kelly Runs for Food

    I definitely eat more during the first half of the day, probably because I work out first thing so I’m hungrier then. I almost never eat anything after dinner (partly cause I go to bed so early). I don’t know if you’ve ever used My Fitness Pal or not before. I use it to track my meals and workouts, but it’s especially useful for giving you a nutrient break-down of your day or week. I like seeing the percentage breakdown of protein, carbs, and fat so I know where I can make adjustments. You can also track sugar, which is very helpful for me!

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      I was an avid Livestrong user, which is similar to MyFitnessPal. But I found I was becoming much to conscious of calories and wanted to ditch that mentality so stopped using it.

      Reply

  13. Natasha

    Definitely eating a substantial amount of protein right after my workout and some quick fruit sugars like dates helped me a lot.
    I also eased my way into eating more by adding sprinkles of cheese here and there on my meals, or using more caloric foods in general – instead of low-fat yogurts, I would use full-fat, etc. Also, I wouldn’t eat as many veggies because they would fill me up without providing as many calories.
    In order to succeed, nutrition is really crucial, and that was where my dedication to Crossfit fell, I just got sick of eating so much all the time hahahah, so definitely listen to the advice your coach gives you, but your body will adjust to the new calorie level soon, and It will help you get stronger!

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      Yes exactly! I definitely find just a couple of nuts or more olive oil helps to keep me full. Still hoping I don’t break out of my shirts though…

      Reply

  14. eatgreatbegreat

    I think my biggest problem is that I don’t eat enough for breakfast. I can’t eat early in the morning either, so I’ll get up at 6:45 a.m. and then wait until I get to work to eat breakfast, which is then around 9 a.m. I’m usually fairly hungry at that time. I eat and then an hour or so later, I’m hungry again. I’m obviously doing something wrong. This is definitely something I need to figure out and work on.

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      I felt like that this summer. It was a lot of guesswork and really only these past few weeks have I felt really satisfied after a meal.

      Reply

  15. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles

    I think the eating-before-a-workout thing was one of the reasons I switched to after-work workouts rather than morning ones back in the summer. I don’t like eating that early in the morning, but it’s definitely a good idea if you’re strength training!
    I’m currently trying to balance out my meals a little more – have my breakfast, lunch and dinner be approximately the same size rather than my medium sized breakfast, small lunch, and big dinner approach. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s a work in progress.

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      We’re all a work in progress :) I love that you are experimenting too. It’s a lot of trial and error but I am confident it will be worth it for both of us.

      Reply

  16. Rose

    Hi Amy! Loving your blog :)
    This is an interesting post to read, I’m loving hearing about your approach to weight lifting/cross-fit/paleo.. sounds like you are going in with your Own mind rather than group think approach lol so good for you. I’m an oatmeal or toast girl for bfast so eggs and nuts are kinda hard for me to imagine eating in the am. Lunch, usually a chicken or hummus and avocado wrap, or veggie soup, toast and veggie sticks. It would definitely seem way unnatural for me to do a big salmon/veg/grain thing for lunch.. I sometimes work in the evenings or do some hot yoga/pilates.. so I don’t think it would be best for me! I still do a larger (ish) dinner and dessert.. After yoga haha.
    Wondering, are you consciously upping your calories for the day? Or just making sure to add in more fats specifically? I do (and teach) PIlates, yoga and body strength for my strength training.. I often wonder how I should fuel for more intense workouts (yes, they can be intense too!!).
    I don’t like weight lifting and I have Baddd knees from a lifetime of dance and snowboarding so I need to be careful.. it also just doesn’t feel Right to me, ya know? I don’t feel good during or after. Where as yoga burns soo good ;)

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      Hi Rose! Thank you for the sweet comment – I am glad you find this interesting. I was an oatmeal girl in the morning too. It is very hard to change an engrained pattern of eating but I really want to stay committed and do what (I think) is best for my body and goals. I started small: eggs after a workout but made sure to also have something sweet (some raspberries or 1/2 a banana with peanut butter). Funny enough, now I actually want the savory breakfasts! We just get so used to something and I think we are wired to resist change. It is very weird at first but ultimately you have to do what works for you, especially if you are working or doing yoga/pilates in the evening. This is of course just what I am doing but it may not be right for everyone.
      Regarding the increase in calories, I am not consciously doing so but more just trying to eat a bit more protein and fat. Naturally the calories increase but I have a history with calorie counting so I am trying not to think about that :) And I totally know that yoga/pilates is tough! I did a vinyassa 2 last night and my arms were burning. I usually do yoga in the early evening so have a Larabar and banana before that then refuel with some protein, nuts and veggies.
      All about doing what is right for you! Glad you are listening to your body :)

      Reply

  17. pickyrunner

    I’ve been trying to eat more during the day as well so I’m not starving at night, but it is tough completely shifting the mentality since like you,I have always been a huge dinner person. Its interesting to see what workouts leave you hungrier than others. I have some workouts I do that I need to eat before, and others (like running) where I have to wait until after. I don’t think I agree with the cross fit nutrition approach either but there are obviously lessons to take away from any type of diet! I’m glad the adjustments you’re making are working for you :)

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      It is very hard to change an engrained pattern of eating but I really want to stay committed and do what (I think) is best for my body and goals. We just get so used to something and I think we are wired to resist change. It is very weird at first but ultimately you have to do what works for you. I definitely don’t eat as much before runs either.

      Reply

  18. Megan (The Lyons' Share)

    You named one of my biggest challenges … working on front-loading my calories a bit more. It’s so much more appealing to me to eat smaller meals for breakfast and lunch, and then eat a big dinner and a big snack (OK, snackS) after dinner, but I do think the body recovers better and remains more balanced if you can balance the load a bit. You’ve got it on balancing the insulin spikes … I would recommend focusing on the low-glycemic foods, but also making sure that you’re balancing carbs with fats/ protein, which it seems like you’re all over. Something like a glass of juice alone can cause an insulin roller coaster. Love this post!

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      I was (not so long ago) the same way. It is so hard to make the changes but as long as I have been making an effort, I feel happy. And I think they are the “right” changes for my goals. Thank you for the advice on the insulin spikes! I was hoping you’d provide your two cents :)

      Reply

  19. thesavedrunner

    I loved reading this post! I find all of this so interesting, because I am also trying to figure out what food is best for my body and what works as the best fuel. I always eat something in the mornings before I work out, and it’s usually a rice cake with peanut butter or a small piece of plantain bread with peanut butter. If I am going on a long run, then I will either have a piece of ezekial toast with pb or a banana with pb. I also love having snacks, and most of my snacks are the same ones you mentioned that you have. (I commented back on your comment on my post today and I said I am pretty sure we have the exact same taste buds. :) ) I typically eat pretty big breakfasts because if I don’t, I get hungry real quick! I love having my bigger meals for lunch instead of dinner, but this isn’t always possible. But I definitely still get the nutrition I need at dinner and don’t overdo it, which I think is key.

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      I always forget about rice cakes! We do have such similar taste buds :) It is all about figuring out what works for you. Definitely eating more at lunch requires a bit more prep when you are on the go and some days I don’t always eat enough during the day. It’s a work in progress but I am hoping I like this, stick to it or at least find a bit of a middle ground.

      Reply

  20. Arman @ thebigmansworld

    ahh this post! I’m so glad to read that you’re sticking to your guns, but at the same time, implementing new ideas and testing things out- I’m loving how you’re having a pre workout snack- that is something I’ve never done before!

    I’ve mentioned to you before but I am definitely trying to increase the portion size of my meals to avoid snacking- because my ‘snacks’ never fill me up or satisfy me!

    Reply

    1. Amy Post author

      For Crossfit workouts, I have had wayyyy more energy post-egg and cashews. I definitely recommend it. I usually 6am spin on an empty stomach but I still think fasted cardio has benefits. Definitely a lot of guesswork, and I am still working on it but I think it is worth it.

      Reply

  21. Kim

    Sounds like we have similar eating habits. I don’t eat before my workouts and then I’m not always hungry right after. Lunch is usually fairly light – protein for sure. Dinner – OY!!! Pretty much all of my calories for the day in one meal.

    Reply

  22. Kim @ Racing Bananas

    I have a hard time eating in the morning, especially before a workout. It’s tough! But I do find I feel better during my workout if I’ve nibbled on a little something before hand.
    And btw – I can’t get over how good those brussel sprouts looks – yum!

    Reply

  23. lovenataliemarie

    I can handle eating in the morning and before a workout. I love fueling up with oatmeal topped with peanut butter and fruit with a side of coffee, but if I have an afternoon workout, I’ll usually eat some blueberries or an apple. I’ve been trying out different methods with my eating and still trying to find what works best for me. I usually just have four big meals that keeps me satisfied. :)

    Reply

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  25. Gabby @ the veggie nook

    You totally got it on long lasting energy foods- low glycemic foods to help release sugar into your bloodstream slowly. Eating fibre with snack helps with this too! And remember you can eat a small amount of soething with a high glycemic index, and its effect won’t be to high, just have it with something else lower on the scale. (I could get into an explanation of glycemic load vs. index but I won’t bore you;) ). Good job on listening to your body and experimenting!

    Reply

  26. Kelsey

    I’ve been concerned about my “eating all the food” when it comes to doing CrossFit. It has been difficult knowing what to eat and how to incorporate what my body needs into my diet. My mom is going to help me find some help for it since I’ve been struggling. I try to do it on my own, and just find myself overwhelmed! I am also hoping that my coach will be able to be some help!

    Reply

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