The following tips are those that I’ve learned through trial and error, advice from trainers, and through my own research. Each have made a HUGE difference in how I feel as well as my results. I wish I had known about these tips when I started working out so that I could’ve been more efficient and pleased with quicker results.

-Drink Caffeine before working out. Caffeine is a stimulant. It gives you extra stamina and increases your heart rate, improving blood flow from the heart to the rest of your body, therefore it helps you perform well during a workout with less fatigue. It also increases the amount of adrenaline in your system, causing a rush of extra glucose and oxygen to your muscles. With the extra glucose rushing into the muscles, your muscles will use less glycogen, which is essentially energy. Instead of using up glycogen as you exercise, your body will instead begin to burn fat first. This is described as “glycogen sparing”. I like to drink an iced {black} coffee about an hour before I work out, and I’ll drink some as I exercise (with water too, of course).

-Do all strength training before cardio. Your body uses stored energy (glycogen) during exercise. When glycogen levels are low, energy levels will subsequently be low. So, if you do your cardio before strength training, you’ll use up your body’s energy source for an intense workout. For this reason, it’s best to lift weights first for maximization of muscle building and fat loss. I used to always do cardio before strength training, and after a very kind trainer educated me on the many reasons I was doing things backwards, I noticed a HUGE difference in my energy levels, muscle growth, and fat loss. If I take a weight lifting class or a cardio based class, I make sure to incorporate weights before the cardio class or cardio after the weights class. Most days I work out on my own, and have a strength training/cardio routine.

-Eat carbs before your workout, and fill up on protein after your workout.  Here we go again with glycogen talk! Eating carbohydrates about an hour before a workout will load your muscles with preferred energy, AKA glycogen. This doesn’t mean you should eat a baguette or 10 candy bars! I usually eat 1-2 mashed sweet potatoes or 1-2 brown rice cakes topped with raw almond butter before a workout. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an article stating that consuming protein after your workout will replenish your muscles to promote growth and repair. Not eating protein afterwards is almost counterproductive. This is why you’ll see some people downing a protein shake as they finish a workout and leave the gym. I am not a fan of protein shakes, so I bring my protein pancakes with me and eat a couple after I complete a workout.

-Practice High Intensity Interval Training {HIIT} Cardio. Conventional cardio wisdom says that doing cardio for a long time at a steady state is the most beneficial for fat loss, but several studies have shown that this is complete hogwash. When you do cardio at a steady state for long periods of time, your muscles will deteriorate, and they will lose the ability to absorb glucose, thus you will lose muscle tissue. HIIT is described as “A strategy that involves alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods.” I will be sharing my HIIT workouts next week!