I recently had a newsletter community member email me about a very common issue I come across with clients exercising late in the day so I thought it would be a good topic to cover.
Her dilemma: Exercising Late in the Day
“I work until 5:30 each weekday, then most days head to the climbing gym. I like to climb and train for 2-3 hours, but I find it hard to factor dinner into that schedule. I’ve tried eating dinner before climbing (makes me sluggish), after (makes me low energy and distracted while climbing). I’ve also experimented having a snack before then dinner after, but with this I am eating a full meal right before bed, and lacking some energy while climbing.”
There are two things to focus on for this:
- Breakfast of kings, lunch of princes, and dinner of peasants. Make breakfast your largest, most balanced meal of the day. Lunch should be of moderate size and dinner on the lighter side. There are two reasons for front loading your food, one being that it will give you sustained energy levels all day to avoid the afternoon crash and the other being to avoid the sluggish feeling during your later exercise sesh.
- Two supports number one: try dinner for breakfast. I find that sometimes people have a hard time achieving this large meal with the usual breakfast foods (yogurt, fruit, bacon, etc.) since you can only stomach so much of it, so what I recommend is to think quick dinner foods or leftovers instead. Try something like a rotisserie chicken with a chickpea and sauteed greens mix or there are some great options in the 5-minute meal section of the recipes page or preparing it the night before is helpful too.
My personal breakfast favorite is bacon kimchi fried rice with a fried egg on top. It’s breakfast-y but also hardy. Or if I have a really busy week, I make quinoa patties/muffins on Sunday and freeze them in individual servings and defrost them throughout the week.
Some Other Tips:
Leftovers are king! Cook less, eat more. To help with this, make bigger portions when you cook and package them in single serving pyrex that can easily be frozen.
For breakfast and lunch, also focus on getting substantial good fats i.e. olives, avocados, coconut, nuts and seeds, fatty fish/meat, hard cheeses, etc.
For dinner pre-exercise, shoot for something lighter and easy to digest, like avocado tuna salad, prosciutto apple wraps, or mustard chicken lettuce boats with sweet potato chips. You’ll have to play with the amount of food that is best for you to determine what gives you the most energy during your exercise. Having it about an hour and a half or so before would be ideal.
Try to avoid massive meals before you go to sleep but definitely get some protein and simple carbs to help your muscles recover. Also so you don’t go to bed hungry. This broiled grapefruit would work with greek yogurt or a banana with nut butter.
This issue was a huge reason for the development of my dark drinking chocolate with grass fed collagen.
Both for people who exercise late, but also for people who exercise really early and then have coffee on an empty stomach on the way to work.
You’ll get the 13 grams of protein you need from collagen protein to repair your muscle tissue, and also the simple carbs you need to refill your glycogen stores from the coconut sugar.
Plus, it’s delicious and a nice reward that’s easy to digest. Having it as a hot chocolate with milk is great or you can make a banana, peanut butter, drinking chocolate smoothie. The only thing to note is that chocolate has a bit of caffeine so if you’re really sensitive, shoot for the other options I mentioned.