A healthy diet and exercise are key components to weight management and good health. It’s vital to properly fuel your workouts for optimal performance and muscle building. We’ve come up with simple guidelines to give you the best information for fueling your fitness and also setting the record straight on fueling myths. Don’t miss out on our Homemade Peanut Butter recipe below, which provides 4 grams of protein per serving!

Fueling your Fitness

Pre Workout

There are a lot of pre-workout supplements on the market these days, claiming to give you that “extra boost” and “extreme energy” to power through your workout. In short, many of these products have sugar (dextrose) as their main ingredient and contain many “natural” additives that have no evidence in increasing energy. Many of these supplements also contain up to 300 mg of caffeine per serving, very close to the recommended 400 mg daily maximum according to the Mayo Clinic.  Below is a list of ingredients that are found in popular pre workout supplements and what they claim to do:

Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline is a chemical released in the brain when  fatty acid found in soy is broken down. It has been researched to have a positive effect on memory in the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia and stroke. Some side effects include heartburn, dizziness, and skin rash.

Creatine is an acid that helps supply energy to the muscles and is used to improve performance and build muscle when supplemented. Research shows increase in short-term athletic performance, however, this is variable when factoring in the person’s age, athletic ability, length of supplementation and type of workout. Creatine causes water uptake in the muscle, which can give the illusion of muscle gain and cause dehydration. When combined with caffeine (also found in many pre-workout supplements) there is an increased risk of stroke and irregular heartbeat.

Taurine is an amino-containing acid essential for cardiac function and muscle development. Taurine has a diuretic effect on the body, which can cause dehydration.

Tetramethyluric Acid is a purine alkaloid derived from Chinese herbal tea known as kudingcha. The primary use of supplementing is for caffeine purposes, increasing focus, and anti-inflammatory use. Research has not shown improvement in concentration with supplementation, but may improve fatigue after seven days of supplementation. Side effects of use are inconclusive as there is not enough reliable research.

L-Tyrosine is an essential amino acid for utilizing protein and building muscle. However, research does not support supplementation of tyrosine before exercise as it is not shown to increase strength or endurance. Supplemental tyrosine should not be taken if you have hyperthyroidism or Grave’s disease.

Vitamin B12 has the long-standing myth of increasing energy in the body, but it is mostly used for making red blood cells. While it does have a role in metabolism and utilizing energy, additional Vitamin B12 is metabolized by the kidneys and excreted via urine, thus rendering excessive intake (up to 400% Daily Value in some supplements) useless. Research has not supported Vitamin B12 supplementation in treating fatigue and lack of energy

As you can see, these additional supplementation of vitamins and amino acids do not have the supported research to effectively boost your workout. That initial jolt of increased energy you may feel is likely caffeine as it is a stimulant. With pre workout supplement mixes running over $30 a bottle, it may be more valuable to have a cup of coffee prior to exercise if you really feel you need the energy boost.

In order to get your best performance, before a workout fuel up with a small snack mainly of carbohydrates and a small amount of protein about an hour or two before your workout. Examples include a slice of toast with peanut butter (check out our Homemade Peanut Butter recipe below!), or an orange with string cheese. If your workout is first thing in the morning, try eating a small granola bar or a small piece of fruit while you get ready or warm up. This will give you some energy without loading up on too many calories, which can upset your stomach.


Post Workout

Replenishing energy stores after your workout is highly important, however, it’s easy to over do it. Different workouts need different amounts of fuel for recovery because 30 minutes of brisk walking does not burn the same amount of energy as 30 minutes of swimming laps. We recommend an activity tracker or online fitness tracker, such as www.myfitnesspal.com, to keep count on calories burned. No matter which exercise you do, a combination of protein and carbohydrates is the key combination for repleting stores. It’s best to eat as soon as possible post-workout, so depending on your schedule that may be a quick snack, like peanut butter and apples, or your next full meal (try our Baked Beef Tostadas with Mango Salsa for balanced protein and carbohydrates).


How much protein do I need?

While protein is essential for muscle growth, there is no need to over do it. Many protein shakes and supplements offer 60 grams of protein per serving, which is well more than enough to fuel some people for the whole day.Research has also shown that the body can only utilize 25-30 grams of protein at a time, excreting excess protein through the digestive system and the urine, which can be hard on your kidneys. Another common misconception is to consume 2 grams of protein per pound of weight— that can be over 400 gm of protein a day for some, which is nearly impossible and severely excessive. Consuming protein in that high amount does not guarantee muscle growth and can also cause kidney damage. According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram (weight in pounds divided by 2.2) of body weight per day for athletes. For example, a person who weighs 175 lbs, that equals 79.5 kg. Multiple weight in kilograms by grams of protein (1.2-2.0, depending on the activity) for a range of 95-159 gm protein/day. Protein shakes may be ideal for those limited on post-workout time and who need recovery fuel.


Throughout The Day

In the times between your workouts, it’s important to stay hydrated! Refer to our article on ways to stay hydrated. Also be sure to eat balanced meals that include protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, dairy, fruits and vegetable at meals.


Click the links below for more info on protein needs, calorie needs and exercise tips!

Protein and nitrogen balance from the Journal of Nutrition

Fueling workout tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

How to fuel your workout from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics



Homemade Peanut Butter

Homemade Peanut Butter

This is the easiest recipe and I swear by it! If you take a look at the food label on your jar of peanut butter in your pantry right now, chances are you will see a list of ingredients that contain added sugar, salt and hydrogenated oil. These extra ingredients add unwanted calories and sodium. I guarantee you will taste the difference once you make your own peanut butter! Below are a list of extra ingredients you can add to the peanuts for a different flavor without alot of extra calories:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • Substitute peanuts for 1 cup of almonds or cashews


Homemade Peanut Butter

by: Lisa Kay, MS, RD

8 servings



1 cup dry roasted peanuts (no salt added)


  1. Add peanuts to food processor. Leave on for about 5 minutes until smooth texture or less time if you prefer crunchy texture
  2. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge up to 2 weeks for best freshness.


NOURISHING NUTRITION (per 2 Tbsp serving)

Calorie: 106

Fat (g): 8 g

Sodium (mg): 0 mg

Protein (g): 4 g

Carbs (g): 4 g

Fiber (g): 2 g



Use just as you would regular, store bought peanut butter. Use on sandwiches, stir into oatmeal or spread some on a banana for a sweet treat![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]