Friday, February 08, 2013

Fitness Friday: Eating for Exercise

I'm stealing the idea for Fitness Fridays from Kari.

My 2013 resolutions included some fitness goals. I have been travelling fairly well - I've done push-ups every week, pretty much always cycle to work, and run a few times a week. But all this exercise makes me really hungry. And I'm doing it to be fit, rather than to lose weight, so I haven't been cutting calories. But I was not really very strategic about my eating until fairly recently. Reading Bianca's posts about the Thrive Forward cleanse got me thinking about it. I signed up for the site, but didn't participate really. What it gave me, instead, was some ideas about the most efficient ways to fuel myself.

So now, I pop a Direct Fuel Bite before my run. I shape them into balls and store in the fridge, so I can grab one quickly as I blearily put on my shoes and get Tika's lead so very early in the morning. Before discovering Direct Fuel Bites, I ate nothing before running. These are made with dates and coconut oil (and I add crystallised ginger to mine, which is yummy), and supposedly the glucose in the dates gets turned into fuel pretty much immediately, and the fatty acids from the coconut oil are another source of quick energy. I do notice a difference - I feel less tired by the end of my (still short) run.

Straight after my run, I drink plenty of water while one of us gets breakfast together. I tend to have granola with soy milk, which is fairly high in protein thanks to okara, seeds & nuts, simple carbs thanks to dried fruit, and complex carbs thanks to oats and other grains. So I get an immediate re-fuel, as well as more long-term, low-GI energy. To make it more filling, I usually top with chia goo (1 tsp. of chia seeds with about 1 Tbsp. of hot water, let sit for 3 or 4 minutes) and fresh fruit if we have any.

Or I have a smoothie. I make mine filling by including oats, which I soak in a bit of water or soy milk in the blender jug overnight. In addition to that, I either have peanut butter & banana, or tropical fruit (whatever is on hand) with almond meal for protein.

But even with a filling breakfast, I get hungry again in the mid-morning. Andy and I try to keep bananas around for morning tea, and if I'm really starving I'll have my banana with a rice cake and almond butter, which I keep in my office for hunger-related emergencies.

If, for some reason, we don't have bananas (or other snack fruit) on hand, we put a batch of muffins in the freezer. They stay super fresh, and thaw out by the time we're hungry for little lunch. Since beginning to exercise more consistently, I have tried to maximise the nutrition in these snacks. This recipe for banana muffins that I made last week isn't the healthiest ever - I used white flour and sugar - but they are high in protein, oil-free, and most importantly, delicious. The recipe is very loosely based on Dynise's Blueberry-Banana Bread from Urban Vegan, but only very loosely.

High-Protein Banana Muffins

2 tsp. chia seeds
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. bicarb soda
1 1/2 c. plain flour
1/4 c. quinoa flakes
3/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. rum
1/2 c. wet okara (or sub yogurt, or mashed silken tofu)
3 large bananas, mashed
1/3 c. soy milk
3/4 c. chopped nuts (I used half macadamia, half walnuts)

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix up the mashed bananas with the rum, okara and soy milk. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Spoon into lightly oiled muffin cups and bake at 180 for 28-30 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for a minute or two, and then carefully take them out. Cool fully on a rack, and then (if you want to keep them super fresh for up to a month) put them in a bag and freeze. Take out one muffin at least 30 minutes before you want to eat it.

I'm still, really, an exercise novice. I'm no endurance athlete, and I run in a week what a lot of people do in a day. But even a little bit of proper exercise is super duper good for you, especially when it's matched with good, nutritious food.


Kari said...

I am so delighted to see this Fitness Friday post, not least because my latest Fitness Friday post will be appearing later today too :-) I will link back to you!

I loved the content as well because I am just about to move my running from a range I sit in quite comfortably to a range I've never gone in to before (eek...), in anticipation of this half marathon I've registered for in April. I really struggle with getting the fuel balance right when I up my exercise, and your muffin recipe and the fuel bites sound fantastic. Thank you!

(Also, in case you don't get time to check back, Leon is a UK food chain that has a focus on fresh, sustainable food and cooking - we ate at one in London and fell in love, and then I discovered they have a book :-) ).

linty said...

For those of us not in beautiful Australia, is bicarb soda the same as baking soda? Same measurements? I saw the addition of rum and now I have to try these!

Theresa said...

@linty - that's right, baking soda :) I use US measuring spoons & cup, so all else will be the same too (though, honestly I've never had a problem with US/Aus measurements).

Matt said...

Ah, that's a great way of using up okara - we end up with quite a bit regularly and it's a bit of a struggle to find new and inventive ways of using it. I know Miyoko Schinner and Bryanna Clark Grogan have some good recipes though. High protein muffins sound good!

Joey said...

I think it'll be a while before I get in on the fitness friday posting, but I'm behind those muffins all the way!

Rooted Vegan said...

Those looks great!

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