Fuel your Zephyr: How to eat your way to your best workout

For our second guest blog post, we asked Makenzie Lewendal, local health and wellness expert and rockstar athlete, what she eats to fuel and recover from her sweat sessions, since what you eat before and after your workout is just as important as the workout itself. Let her help you make the most of your Zephyr rides – we promise she’s got you covered. We’ll let her take it from here!

Makenzie Lewendal, local health and wellness enthusiast and this week’s guest blogger.

Cycling is no joke!! Am I right?! I know for me, cycling is one of the only cardio workouts where I am pushed beyond what I ever thought I was capable of. Between sprinting on the flats, the resistance of the climbs and the endless sweat dripping from every inch of my body…I surprisingly leave feeling more refreshed than when I arrived. But, to get the most out of every ride, it is critical to fuel your body. This leaves you ready to hop right back on the saddle the next day – pun intended!

So who am I? My name is Makenzie Lewendal. I like to say I have one of the best jobs around. I get to help people with two of their biggest investments – their health and their homes. My husband and I are Bozeman natives who own a local real estate company. While helping people buy and sell homes is a passion of mine, health and wellness are right up there, maybe even trumping real estate (shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone). I nerd out reading nutrition books, cookbooks, and experimenting how to take recipes I love and turn them into healthier versions.

But, that’s enough about me! I’m here to talk about what your body needs for a cardio based workout. Let’s start with how to fuel your body before you hit the bike.

How to fuel your body: To eat or not to eat before a workout?

This seems to be the million-dollar question.  My answer…you have to experiment with what works best for you! We are all different and our bodies respond in different ways. If you’re someone who needs to put a little gas in the tank before a sweat sesh, make sure you eat a small snack 30-45 minutes prior. Choose a snack that is composed of low glycemic index carbs and protein, such as half a banana with a tablespoon of almond butter or whole grain toast with a tablespoon of almond butter. The carbs provide energy and the protein protects your muscles. Lastly – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Good hydration, good circulation, good performance

Now if 5:00 a.m. rolls around and you aren’t hungry…I feel ya!! Countless people have told me “You have to eat before a workout.” I’m here to tell you I have experimented with both and working out on an empty stomach is what works best for me – but I do have a little secret. Hello supplements. Having a good quality supplement before working out will aid in energy and help you maximize workouts without having to eat.  My go-to’s for a morning workout are branch chain amino acids (I take a product called Catalyst) which help put a “protective shield” over my muscles.  This helps use fat for fuel instead of grabbing muscle for fuel. And, beets! My other go-to. Beets have been proven to help relax blood vessels, which allows for better blood flow to working muscles. I take this in supplement form as well, because let’s get real, nobody wants to take a shot of beet juice in the morning…or ever.

Dripping sweat, out of breath, but on top of the world – now it’s time to recover.

Helping your body recover is just as important as fueling your body. You have four critical steps after a workout. Replenish, refuel, stretch and sleep. Sweating is your body’s built-in AC unit.  Very effective, but needs a little love. Make sure you rehydrate with water and electrolytes after a sweat sesh. Also, make sure you are eating a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein or 1:1 depending on your goals within 30 minutes after wrapping up a workout. This aids in fueling the muscles that just carried you through an intense workout.

Stretching and sleep are often put on the backburner when it comes to talking about recovery.  Muscle soreness is one of the top reasons people skip workouts…stretching and foam rolling help relieve pain and lengthen your muscles!! Win-win. And finally, sleep! Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night!  I typically take a supplement full of magnesium and a combo of adaptogens to assist my body in recovering while I sleep.

Sleep, recover, repair, crush tomorrow’s work out!

Phew…that was a lot of information! Thanks for hanging on and absorbing it all!  If this post stirred up any questions, please reach out to me! My email address is makenzie@lewendal.com.  I would love for you to follow along with my housing and nutrition journey on Instagram as well. You can find me under @makenzielewendal.

Want more advice from Makenzie?

Join her at one of our partner studios, Pure Barre Bozeman, on Saturday, November 18th at 11:30 a.m. to participate in an interactive workshop to help you learn how to live a balanced lifestyle and take the confusion out of a hotly debated food group – carbohydrates. This workshop will give you a hands on approach to learn how to balance proteins, carbs and fats to help you achieve your goals.