Q: What are your thoughts on cheat meals, especially for those who are diligent with their daily eating?
A: It’s an interesting question, but the answer really depends on how you define diligent. For those who follow consistent patterns of clean eating — meaning they follow a regimented diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats — I have no problem with a cheat meal here and there. Again, it just comes down to frequency. I happen to think having a cheat meal or splurging a bit is just part of living a healthy and happy life. But you also have to realize that it doesn’t take much to throw you off track if your focus is on attaining or maintaining a healthy weight. Therefore, it may be wise to increase your physical activity for a day or two before and after the meal. This will help to compensate for the calorie load and may make you more at ease with your decision. And be mindful of your other meals as well, so your one cheat meal doesn’t turn into two or three. Enjoy!
Q: What should I eat or drink if I only have an hour before I work out?
A: What you eat before a practice or game should be largely determined by timing and personal preference. Generally speaking, a large meal takes four to five hours to digest, a smaller meal takes two to three hours and a large snack takes one to two hours. If you don’t digest food well enough prior to an activity, you can end up with a stomach ache and cramping. This often occurs because blood (which plays a key role in digestion) is shunted to your arms and legs during activity, thereby slowing down the digestive process. Therefore, if you only have an hour to fuel yourself, it would probably be best to stick with a liquid carbohydrate/protein shake. Liquids are processed faster than solid foods and will provide the energy you need in a shorter timeframe. Keep in mind, we’re not talking about those ice cream-based shakes from fast food restaurants. We’re talking about a sports nutrition shake that is designed for active individuals and athletes. If you want something lighter, a traditional sports drink would be a viable option as well. There are a number of products on the market in each category, so do some taste-testing to see which ones work best for you.
Information provided by Anytime Fitness, 2815 Beaver Ave., Suite 206, Des Moines, 274-2100.