I recently had a client who was incredibly frustrated because she felt like she was doing everything right, but she just couldn’t seem to shed those last 10 pounds. She had banished refined carbs in favor of whole grains, rarely ended the day without racking up five servings of fruits and veggies, drank only water with her meals, and been diligent about working out. But as soon as I saw her food diary, I immediately spied the culprit. Every day she ate an energy bar before going to the gym, about 3 hours after lunch and a few hours before dinner.
That bar was made with healthful ingredients, but it packed over 200 calories and the carb equivalent of two slices of bread. In an attempt to fuel up before her afternoon workout, my client was sending herself into calorie/carb overdrive. Her lunch, bar and dinner combined added up to over 1,000 calories including 6 servings of whole grains, more than her body needed in the 6 hour time frame she consumed the meals, especially since at least 4 of those hours were spent sitting in a chair.
Here’s what she was eating before, and my suggestions for how to create a better balance:
Lunch 1 pm – whole grain pita filled with hummus, turkey, feta and veggies with baby carrots and fresh fruit
Pre-workout snack 4 pm - 220 calorie bar made from whole grains, dried fruit and nuts
Dinner 7 pm – stir-fry veggies in sesame oil with shrimp over brown rice
- Between the pita, bar and brown rice, these meals supply an entire day’s worth of whole grain servings - too much for her "energy demand" between the hours of 1 pm and 7 pm.
- Ditch the bar and move the fruit to the pre-workout snack along with some lean protein, such as an ounce of almonds or an organic string cheese. The carbs from the fruit are enough to fuel a 1 hour workout and the added protein will help stabilize blood sugar. Just go with low acid fruits to avoid tummy troubles like a pear, mini banana or berries.
- Keep dinner the same and stick with no more than 1 cup of cooked brown rice. That’s enough to replenish your blood sugar, re-stock glycogen (the carbs stored in your muscles) and fuel your activity for the evening.
Within a few weeks of tweaking her meals, my client’s scale was showcasing her results. If you think you could use some plateau-busting advice, send me a message! Sometimes a few simple changes are all it takes to make a breakthrough.
P.S. I'm not anti energy bar. In fact, I buy Larabars by the box, but the trick is using them the right way at the right time (future post!).