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Calling All Athletes: Help!

Calling All Athletes: Help!

Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

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  1. Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin

    If I work out after work without having a significant snack beforehand, that always happens to me. You may not be eating enough before the workout because the main fuel your body needs pre-workout is carbs. Greek yogurt on its own doesn’t have enough carbs, and depending on the peanut butter that might not either. A great post recovery snack is chocolate milk. Make sure you have something with lots of protein – – not sure the wheat thins/cream cheese have quite enough.

    So in sum, carbs before, protein after, and make sure you eat enough. You’ll have to experiment with exactly the types of fuel that work for you, but trust me, you’re not alone!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thanks Beth! You might be right about the carbs. I don’t know that I eat enough carbs right before I work out. That’s a great suggestion!

      I usually have chocolate milk as a recovery drink when I get home from the gym on the weekends. That keeps me level for a bit while I stretch, shower, get dressed and prepare a real meal.

  2. Eleonora

    I am typically starving after the pool if I swim in the morning, much less if I swim in the evenings. And it’s the activity that makes me hungriest. As I don’t like to eat a lot before swimming, I usually bring a banana or some dried apricots and a bottle of water to eat afterwards, candybars don’t satisfy me at all!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      YES!!! Swimming is the activity that makes me the hungriest. It’s weird. I could run several miles and not feel hungry after, but swimming for 50 minutes makes me famished.

      1. Eleonora

        I think I read somewhere that the adjustment between body temperature and water temperature influences hunger, but I cannot quote specific sources. I’d stick with dried fruits and nuts, instead of processed bars!

        1. Lisa Eirene

          I’ve heard that too, Eleonora. I bet you’re right.

          Thanks for the tips!

        2. The Boyfriend

          You’re referring to the thermo-dynamics created by being in the water. Simple put, when you decrease your body’s core temperature by getting into cold (80-ish degree) water, your body will burn more calories because it tries to keep you warm.

          Simply put, you will burn up to 3x as many calories by swimming than you would doing other activities of similar effort.

  3. kalin

    Well, I’m not an athlete but I have some diagnosed blood sugar issues… (I used to get dizzy and pass out! So fun! And glucose tolerance tests are AWESOME-especially when 2 hours in the tech looks at you and says “sweetie if you puke we have to redo the whole test. hold it in”… ugh)

    The very best thing I ever learned about wonky blood sugar? The best thing to stabilize it that’s easy to carry around is a fun sized snickers bar. If your blood sugar is totally gone (like, about to pass out style) you need quick accessible sugars which it has, and you also need some protein to keep you from crashing later which you get from the peanuts. Snickers are amazingly low on the glycemic index. Like, lower than whole wheat bread. It’s weird. But it justified getting to have a fun sized snickers in my bag through college, and it really was a lifesaver.

    Pre-workout bananas have a pretty high glycemic index (when I was having bad blood sugar problems I couldn’t eat them)… An apple with PB might be better?

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thank you Kalin! I don’t feel so crazy now. It’s nice to hear others experience this. You are so right about the fun size Snickers. I’ve used those in a pinch and they work wonders. The change in my body is immediate.

      When I have my physical in a few months I’ll talk to my doctor about getting tested again to see what’s going on with my blood sugar. I think the Kudos will work for me for awhile. Sure it’s not ideal but it will get me level.

      Luckily I’ve never had it as bad as you have–I’ve never puked or passed out. I do get light headed and sometimes I thought I was going to black out but didn’t.

    2. kalin

      (This all is of course only if you have bad serious about to pass out and the walls are spinning sort of blood sugar issues… Not normal post workout I want a snack hunger)

  4. Erin Fitzgerald

    This happened to me when I was training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (LONG walks….like….15+ miles), but not usually in the course of daily workouts.

    I’d echo what others have to say about carbs before and protein after. If you’re looking for a “better” snack to stave off the shakes, etc….. Mini Luna bars are a good choice, also….Clif makes 100 calorie mini bars as well. Either of these is a good way to get some quick carbs + protein for minimal calories. (And they’re small…which is nice. Sometimes after a tough workout, my stomach doesn’t want anything heavy.)

    You can get them at Target…not Costco, unfortunately. Another option would be to buy them full-sized at Costco and then just cut them in half for portion control and store them in food storage bags.

    Good luck! I love the blog!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thank you for commenting Erin! And thanks for the tip about Target. I KNEW I’d seen those Mini Luna bars somewhere (I even bought a box) but I couldn’t remember where.

      I’ve tried every protein bar on the market and Luna is my favorite.

      1. Carbzilla

        (REI also has the mini- bars in case you happen to be there)

        1. Lisa Eirene

          Just got my dividend. I’ll have to use that for the Luna bars.

  5. Lori

    You are bonking after those workouts. It means not enough fuel. You must fuel if you are working out before dinner.

    If you don’t want a processed snack – try bringing dates. They are quick energy. Stuff an almond inside as well (or nut butter, which is my favorite). Keep some coconut water or gatorade with you at all times.

    In my bike bag, I keep dates and crystallized ginger in case I bonk during rides.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Gatorade is a good idea. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a date. What about dried apricots or something like that?

  6. Carbzilla

    I’m no athlete but I can’t have any doses of sugar before working out or my levels will drop like a stone so I would definitely leave a banana for after-workout. But that’s me. You might want to do a two part afternoon snack, then pre-workout snack that has more carbs. I’m sure you’ll get some great suggestions!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I never even thought about the sugar in a banana. Interesting…

      I’m going to give carbs a try before my next workout and see if that helps!

  7. Brie @ Brie Fit

    Have you tried using Shot Blox or Sharkies or Sport Beans while working out or immediately after? Or bringing Gatorade/Nuun/Powerade along? It’s not just for runners!

    If I don’t eat something immediately after or during a hard workout, I crash and get very nauseous. I keep a packet of Sharkies in my purse at all times. Yes, it’s processed, but IMO exercise nutrition is one of those areas where processed stuff is fine by me. Science has developed these foods for a specific purpose and they work well for me–it’s not just processed junk I’m eating because it tastes good, you know?

    1. Lisa Eirene

      That’s a great idea Brie! I have a bunch of GUs and Sports Beans leftover from when I was running last summer. I could totally use that. I didn’t even think of it. #SpaceCadet. 🙂

  8. Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing

    Gatorade has a product that comes in a little pouch and is designed to drink 10-15 min. before a workout. Maybe halfway through your workout you could take some Chomps or GU, also. Then have a pre-made snack ready for you afterwards. There’s no need to have processed stuff like bars, but even the healthiest people I know use Gatorade, Chomps, GU, etc. Make half a pb&j or banana or crackers and keep it in your car for after.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thanks Carolyn! I’m going to take some GUs and Chomps with me to the gym on Wednesday and the pool on Friday. I will experiment with those and see how they do.

  9. Aj

    I think swimming (which I used to do when I had access to a pool) is one of the toughest activities because we aren’t aware always of how much our body is exerting because we aren’t sweating the way we do with other cardio activities. To echo the commenter above, I think the temperature change really contributes to hunger (I’ve heard this from trainers) and a hot shower immediately afterwards can be helpful (even if it’s just to warm up and rinse off). Also, I know that a lot of “sports” products are fairly processed but Coconut water is a natural electrolyte drink that has about 50 calories per serving (usually 1-2 servings per container). Combining that with eating more carbs beforehand, some fruit to immediately spike blood sugar (I totally get hangry with low blood sugar – an orange or banana immediately helps – and these are fruits handed out during and after races) might work.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      You are so right….swimming seems effortless to me. While I burn calories and my heart rate spikes, I don’t necessarily feel like it’s a workout compared to running. It’s more an “enjoyable activity that burns calories” if that makes sense.

      The answer seems to be carbs. Carbs it is!

  10. SMM

    I get super cranky too!!! I have homemade granola bars that I made ( that are PERFECT after I workout (or even before I go to practice)–and they aren’t processed, so I don’t feel bad. They last if you freeze them, so 1 batch lasts a long time. Having these have helped significantly keep my beast at bay until I can get to a meal!!!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thanks for the recipe think. I will check them out. Less processed is preferred but I’ll try anything at this point!

  11. debby

    Here’s a link to a homemade protein energy bar, if you want a healthy bar. These are really good. You have to scroll down to get to the recipe.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thanks for link, Debby. I’ll check it out.

  12. Leah @ L4L

    This doesn’t really happen to me BUT i think what I would turn to is Larabars (170-210 cals) or my no-bake granola bars (200 cal) or just some dates (~100 cal) or even a fruit leather (35 cal) to get some quick carbs in me. What about something as simple as drinking some gatorade to replenish those electrolytes? Now that I think about it, swimming makes me really hungry. Maybe it is b/c I’m not hydrating while swimming like I do with running/lifting? Or the chemicals dry me out or something? lol.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      The electrolytes thing interest me. I will try using some Gatorade the next time I swim. I do drink water when I swim but not tons because it will slosh around in my stomach.

  13. Diane

    My favorite snack before/after exercise (long swims really take it out of me too) are Lara bars. They are in the 200-calorie range, easy to transport, come in all kinds of flavors and best, are all natural with just a couple of ingredients. Mostly dates, some nuts like almonds and other natural ingredients. I used to get them in whole foods but a lot of supermarkets are carrying them now.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I wish I liked Larabars but they aren’t my favorite. I do like the idea of dried fruit or dates.

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