(Life by DailyBurn) -- Anyone who makes fitness a priority has experienced that moment when a slight tummy rumble comes along just as you head out to the gym.
But do you grab a snack to get more out of your workout? Or skip the food to avoid stomach cramps and potentially "undo" everything you're about to accomplish?
And if you do choose to fuel, should that be with a protein shake, an energy bar, a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit?
Pre-workout snacks shouldn't make you feel stuffed but it is important to eat up, says Cynthia Sass, a registered dietician. "Exercising on an empty stomach can lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue," cautions Sass.
Without food to fuel your workout, muscle tissue is instead converted into glucose to provide the energy you need, which isn't ideal -- whether you're trying to build muscle or lose weight. This breakdown can negatively impact your metabolism and might even lead to injury.
Food for thought....
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In order fuel up properly pre-workout, it's important to understand how the body uses energy. Chris Mohr, a registered dietician who has a PhD in exercise physiology, says the first source of energy, lasting just a few seconds, comes from the breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is naturally found in the body.
Next, the body uses glucose (sugar) for immediate but longer lasting energy. Finally, during endurance training, the body starts to break down stored carbohydrates, called glycogen, to provide sustained energy.
"The type of workout itself, and the duration, will affect the different processes taking place in your body," says Mohr. So the duration and intensity of your workout will determine your energy needs.
Knowing how to best fuel your body can help you get the most out of every sweat session and get you one step closer to achieving your goals. Here are the fundamentals to fuel for success.
It may be possible to rewire your brain so that it wants -- craves, even -- healthier foods.
How? By following a healthy diet.
We know, that wasn't the quick fix to afternoon ice cream binges you were hoping for. But this research could lead to a more sci-fi solution to the obesity epidemic.
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In a pilot study published Monday in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, scientists say that changing your eating behavior can actually change how your brain reacts to high-calorie and low-calorie foods.
"We don't start out in life loving french fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta," senior author Susan Roberts, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Energy Metabolism Laboratory, said in a statement. "This conditioning happens over time in response to eating -- repeatedly -- what is out there in the toxic food environment."
So it makes sense that the opposite would also hold true.
Scientists divided 13 overweight and obese participants into two groups: a control group and an experimental group. At the beginning of the study, both groups underwent an fMRI to record their brain activity in response to photos of various foods.
The experimental group then participated in a behavioral intervention program, which included portion-controlled menus and support group sessions. The participants were asked to reduce their calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day and to follow a high-fiber, high-protein diet to prevent hunger and cravings.
After six months, people in the experimental group had lost an average of 14 pounds, while the control group had lost about 5 pounds.
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