Monthly Archives: June 2014

What to Eat Before You Workout

You’re on a mission to lose body fat. Be sure you have the right approach and avoid these common mistakes:

Before you start your workout you eat a snack because you think you need the energy. You eat nuts or granola, energy bars, dairy or fruit and then spend an hour doing cardio on the treadmill or eliptical or take a conditioning class.
What’s wrong with this approach? Well, the issue is that fat loss only happens when your body runs out of energy from carbs. If you eat lots of carbs every day you will burn only carbs and never body fat. What constitutes lots of carbs? For the average 150 lb woman that would be more than 150 grams per day. For the average 180 lb guy about 180 g of carbs per day.
The only way you will ever change the shape and look of your body is by burning off the body fat that covers your muscles. Unless you drop to a body fat of about 20% for women and 16% and below for men you are not going to see any muscle tone because the muscles are hidden underneath a layer of fat. Take a look at the pictures below, which illustrate the level of definition based on your body fat percentage.
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When you work out your body uses energy initially from the carbs in your blood sugar. That might last you about 20 minutes – depending on how long ago you had your last meal and how many carbs you ate. (Just imagine that your first 20 minutes running on the treadmill might not even burn any body fat – but only carbs!). Once the blood sugar resources are used up, your body turns to carbs stored in your liver and muscle. These carbs are called glycogen. The muscles can hold up to about 450 grams of carbs if you have a lot of muscle and much less if you have little muscle (that’s why you want to strength train. The more muscle you have, the more glycogen they can hold without making you fat!). The liver can store about 100 grams of carbs. Both muscles and liver can store about 2,000 calories worth of glycogen, which can provide you with about 3 hours of energy during an endurance event or last you for about 2 days if you keep a moderate carbohydrate diet. Only once those stores in the muscles and liver are used up will you burn fat .
So, make sure you reduce your carb intake throughout the day to about 30 g per meal to allow your body to use energy from body fat instead of energy from carbs. Once the time for your workout comes, you’ll burn through your blood sugar energy and muscle and liver glycogen stores quickly and then draw energy from your fat stores. Did you know that the average person can live for several weeks without food because your body becomes ultra-efficient at burning fat as fuel? That’s how much body fat we all carry on our bodies.
If you have reached your goal weight and body fat already, then snacking before a workout can help you push yourself harder and make your workout more productive. Here’s a few pointers for snacking before working out:
1. Dairy can make you congested so reserve it for refueling after your workouts or skip it entirely.
Pile of assorted nuts close up
2. Nuts are too high in fat and that can make you sluggish during your workout.
3. Granola is loaded with sugar and 1/3 cup has about 40 grams of carbs. You might have to run on the treadmill for about 30 minutes to just burn through the food you ate to fuel your workout – that’s a total waste of time. Use the fuel stores in your body.
4. Fruit converts into fructose, which is used by the liver, but not your muscles. The muscles will only use it for energy if nothing else is available, so save yourself the fruit sugar.
If you want to lose fat and maintain muscle, then do your workouts on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. If you work out at night them have a snack or protein shake about 90 minutes before your workout. A non- carb/low-carb protein shake is best since it will allow you to maintain muscle while promoting fat burning. And, the best fat loss trick of all is to finish your day with a protein shake instead of a heavy dinner. Not only will you wake up feeling energized and refreshed but also quite a bit lighter.

– Ariane Hundt, founder of  Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp.

5 Must-Have Items to Pack for a Fit Vacation


Have a trip coming up? Need some help packing? We talked to Booya trainers Ariane Hundt and Shay Kostabi to get the scoop on their go-to travel items and snacks that’ll keep your vacation healthy and active.

1. Sneakers:

Both Ariane and Shay agree that sneakers are a must no matter where you’re headed. If they’re in your bag, you’re more likely to think about how you can craft that day’s activities with fitness in mind.

shay music2. Headphones and music: Traveling can be tedious so Shay recommends bringing along some tunes to keep your energy up. Headphones also come in handy if you decide to go for a run.


3. High protein snacks: Ariane’s go-to travel snacks are Quest Bars and individual protein packets. Keeping your protein intake high will ensure hunger stays at bay between meal times. Find both at your local health food store or pack your own travel-friendly snacks in a sealed plastic bag.

4. Easily portable fruits and nuts: A handful of almonds or walnuts in a plastic bag are great  for a quick snack on the go. Portable fruits like apples or bananas travel well in carry-on. They key is to always have something healthy within reach so you stay on track until you return home to your regular routine.

5. Water bottle: Keep a water bottle with you at all times to stay hydrated! Refill at water fountains when possible and you’ll never be without a sip. If you’re flying, be sure to drink before you get through security and then pick up another bottle after the check-point or stock up when you board your flight.

If you forget to pack travel snacks there are healthy options at rest stops or airport kiosks:

–       hard boiled eggs

–       plain, unsalted nuts

–       string cheese

–       salad, without the extra dressing


Food Diary: 4 Tips to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

Ariane ,

When you have a moment (ha!), can you please peek at my food diary and tell me if I’m on the right track… 
I seem not to be able to figure out the trick on how to gain muscle (lost muscle my first Slim and Strong AND on the 21-Day Detox Challenge with you)…  if there’s anything obvious you see that I’m missing or overdoing, please let me know.  I am early enough into the process to be able to make a noticeable change by the time this April/May Slim & Strong session ends in 3 weeks.
Appreciate your time…Have a great day and a great weekend!


8am: Cranberry water with 1 tsp ground flax seed
9:30am:1 decaf americano with 1 oz of half / half
10am: 2 soft boiled eggs with spinach, 1 tsp plain yogurt, mustard
10:40am:  10 almonds
12noon:  ground turkey with tomatoes, spinach, cauliflower, a little plain yogurt
2:30pm:  Quest Protein Bar
3pm:  1 cup yogi detox fasting tea
8pm:  4oz chicken and 1 cup of broccoli, a tsp olive oil and garlic


8am:  Cran water with 1 tsp ground flax seed
9:30am:1 decaf americano with 1 oz of half / half
10:30am: 2 soft boiled eggs with spinach, 1 tsp plain yogurt, mustard
12noon: 4oz ground turkey with tomatoes, 1 TBS plain yogurt, 1 cup cauliflower
2:30pm:  4oz plain yogurt, ½ banana, 10 almonds
830pm:  Quest Protein Bar
It’s not surprising you’re losing muscle mass. You are simply not eating enough. A significant calorie deficit results in weight loss, yes, but if you skimp on protein, you lose muscle mass. If you skimp on good carbs, you can lose both body fat and muscle. What you lose depends on a few factors:
  • how active you are (cardio burns muscle mass if overdone)
  • how you space out your meals (going many hours without eating promotes muscle loss)
  • how much you strength train (it’s key while losing weight to keep the muscle on your body and promote fat loss)
  • your existing muscle mass and your metabolism (the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, the faster you lose fat

I see a few things you are doing right now that promote muscle loss:

* You need to eat more calories overall – from good carbs and protein. Let’s just take the first day you sent me. You are not eating any calories until 10am. At that point you have been awake for at least 3 hours. Your blood sugar is low when you wake up after a night of fasting and needs to be balanced. However, you wait until 10am to eat some protein and at that time your blood sugar is even lower than when you woke up. The little bit of sugar in your cranberry juice and coffee raise your blood sugar a little bit, but definitely not enough to get it balanced. Remember that sugar raises it quickly and then crashes again.
* Eat a balanced breakfast of protein and veggies – omelettes, fritattas, a cup of oatmeal with a protein shake, cottage cheese with berries…. Just a few ideas.
Your breakfast of two eggs with a little yogurt and spinach adds up to about 15g of protein and no more than 10g of carbs. By far not enough to balance your blood sugar because you need about 20g of protein (add another egg) and about 30g of carbs (load up on veggies). Keep in mind that you have gone without protein for about 14 hours at that point and your muscles will go into a catabolic state (breakdown) if you don’t feed them regularly. The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism, and the flabbier you get.
Eating most of your calories in the first part of the day will fuel you, fill you up and ensures you don’t get ravenous in the second part of the day. You’re much better off eating an omelette with loads of veggies or a fritatta or oatmeal with a protein shake or Greek yogurt than having nothing for the first 3-4 hours per day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and sets the tone for the rest of the day. Not eating for hours after getting up will backfire later on.
* Eat more frequent meals
Don’t let so much time go by in the afternoon without eating. You have a snack at 2.30pm and then nothing until 8pm. That’s 5.5 hours without food. By the time you eat dinner, your blood sugar level is very low and it’s hard to recover it. Plus, you’re barely eating any carbs at dinner. One cup of broccoli for dinner is just 6 grams of carbs (4 grams if you deduct the fiber, which doesn’t impact your blood sugar). You need to have about 5 cups of broccoli to balance your blood sugar. Non-starchy veggies are a freebie. You can eat endless amounts without overdoing it. Fiber is key, as are the nutrients in these veggies, so load up!
* Balance your carbs
I’m estimating you’re eating no more than about 40 g of carbs right now, which is way too low for you. That’s almost an Atkins Diet approach where you stick to below 30grams in the first couple weeks. While this is effective in helping you lose fat short term, it’s absolutely no sane way of finding balance, Nor will it help you lose weight in the long run. Eventually you’ll cave into the next high carb food and binge because you’re so deprived. End result: you’re putting on weight faster than before. Plus, you don’t want to lose energy to do your workouts because they are necessary to increase your metabolism and to build muscle mass (and keep your sanity). Eat at least 100g of carbs per day or else you’ll risk losing muscle and your workout intensity will suffer. Aim to stay below 150g per day.
Your dinners are so small that your blood sugar will definitely drop during the night, which will make you wake up feeling sluggish and tired and leaves you with little energy to do your workout. Finding the right carbohydrate balance is one of the hardest things to accomplish but it can be done if you focus on eating as many veggies as you can.
Focusing on just these three steps will make a big difference in your body composition. You’re at 29.5% body fat right now and your goal is to get below 24%. You will be able to gain muscle with consistent balanced eating, while allowing your body to lose any excess body fat. So, more veggies, spread out your protein throughout the day, eat more frequently, snack in the afternoon and start your day with a great breakfast.

Ariane Hundt, founder of the Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp.