One thing that drives me crazy is when I see someone who has just finished their workout (whether it be a gym workout, a fitness class, a hike, a run, a yoga class – pretty much anything that you consider exercise) and then head to the coffee shop and order a latte and some form of pastry.  (Lainey: mean that’s bad?) When I question them on their choices the usual response is  “Hey, I just worked out, I deserve this”, or “I didn’t pack anything to eat and I’m starving and have to get to work” or “it’s a non fat latte and the scone is whole wheat”. There are a lot of things wrong with these statements but the main concerns that I have when I see this happen and hear these excuses for their choices is the skewed reality of what that person just thinks they accomplished in their workout and exactly how many calories they are about to consume.

For example, if you order a 16 ounce latte you are looking at 275 calories (a non fat latte has about 160 calories) and if you add in a whole wheat scone (over 400 calories) you are about to consume almost 700 calories!  That is nearly half of what a small framed women should be consuming on a daily basis.  If you still think you “deserve it” let’s take a look at how many calories you just burned in your workout.  If you push yourself hard for an hour (and I am talking hard – average of 80% of your maximum heart rate hard) you may be lucky to burn around 700 calories (depending on your body composition, sex and age).  On average, most people when they work out on their own will expend about 300-400 calories in an hour.  When I am training a client and having them do a circuit style workout where their heart rate stays pretty constant at around 70% of their maximum they will probably expend between 500-550 calories. If you are not trying to lose weight and you burn 700 calories and then go eat 700 calories that is fine, but I am guessing that 99% of you reading this article are not in that boat..   You are more likely to be in the category of those who work out, but are struggling to see any real weight loss.

Yes exercise is important; it adds muscle mass, it improves our muscular strength and endurance, it strengthens our cardiovascular system, improves our flexibility, relieves stress, helps us sleep better, helps prevent diseases (and the list goes on and on and on). However, it is your diet that has the largest effect on your body composition and losing body fat.  I have mentioned before that balancing your blood sugar is key to losing weight (your body cannot burn fat if your blood sugar keeps spiking and dropping).  This is why so many people prescribe low carbohydrate diets or no carbohydrate diets and some nutritionists even recommend you cut out dairy and fruit (get rid of all sugar) to help your body burn fat.  They are right and that is the best way but it is hard and takes a lot of planning, education and commitment.  

Here is what I recommend.  When you are planning your meals at the beginning of the week (which is something that you should all get into the habit of doing), organize your days so that you are eating more of your carbohydrates in the morning and early afternoon.  As your day progresses start to focus more on eating vegetables, proteins and healthy fats, and try not to have any carbohydrates after dinner (if possible try no carbs after 2 or 3).  The carbohydrates you choose should be healthy and complex so try and stay away from anything that is white, processed and full of sugar.  For example try Squirrelly bread, quinoa, brown rice, vegetables and fruit.

When you are planning your pre and post workout snacks (these snacks are important as they will help fuel you for your workout as well as help you recover after your workout), take this three tips into consideration.

1 – This snack should not be an added snack into your day.  You should plan your snacks so that if you are working out that day one of your meals or snacks is consumed 1-2 hours before your workout and one is consumed 15-30 minutes (maximum) after your workout. You do not get to eat something extra just because you exercised.

2 - Your post meal snack should be a combination of carbohydrates and protein. The carbohydrates will help your body refuel for your next workout and the protein will help your muscles recover.

3 – The snack, should be around 200-250 calories.  When I am trying to help my clients lose weight I like their breakfast, lunch and dinner to be around 400 calories and their 2 (or 3) snacks to be around 250 calories.

Here are some healthy snack ideas for you to try:  

-A piece of fruit with a few almonds or walnuts
- a portion of cottage cheese with some blueberries
- a small Liberte Greek Yoghurt with half of a banana
-1-2 tablespoons of hummus and some chopped veggies
- a healthy recovery drink that you purchase at your local health food store
- half of a Larabar
-a sliced apple and almond butter or piece of cheese.  

These are snacks that should be easy to transport and you can keep in your gym bag or at your office.

Weight loss depends on planning and preparation and if you do not plan you are not going to be successful.  If you do not have the right foods ready to go,  it is that much easier to find yourself at the coffee shop after a workout grabbing a coffee and a muffin. Not only will you be completely undoing all the good you just did, but you are preventing your body from having a proper recovery which will affect your next workout.

Check out my facebook page and share with me your favourite pre and post workout meals.

Attached - Sophia Bush leaving the gym