What Should You Eat Before Your Workout?

The answer depends on two factors: your overall diet and how intense your workout is. If you eat small, balanced meals every few hours while you’re awake, you don’t really need a pre-workout meal strategy. Your body should have ample fuel to get you through any workout around an hour or less (longer workouts have specific needs).

However, if you go longer than 3 hours without eating, you should determine your needs based on a few things. First, how hard is your workout? Easy aerobics and other work where your heart rate doesn’t exceed 140/150 bpm (easy yoga, slow jogging, cycling, hiking, etc.) don’t use a lot of fuel (blood sugar and its back-up, glycogen) and can be done effectively on a fairly empty tank. Good hydration (water, water, water) should be all the fuel you need.

What Should You Eat Before Your Workout

Harder workouts have an anaerobic interval component which burns your limited stores of glycogen. Your body stores glycogen until you need it, but when your diet is very lean, you will almost certainly deplete these stores before the end of your workout if you haven’t eaten in a while. This condition, called “bonking,” causes your performance to instantaneously plummet.

Here are some options & general rules to avoid the dreaded “bonk.” Pick the one that best suits your day.

3 hours prior to a workout: Eat a well-rounded, light meal. As long as it’s not too many calories (more than 500-ish), most of it will be turned into fuel by the time you begin. Almost any of my meal plans fit this mold, as you have ample time to digest.

2 hours prior: Eat a light snack that’s mainly carbohydrates (4 parts carbs to 1 part protein with little fat will ensure there’s time to convert it into glycogen). Energy foods, like granola with yogurt and fruit, are ideal.

1 hour prior: Eat very light, no more than 200 or so calories at around a 4:1 carb to protein ratio. Low-fat, plain yogurt with a little fresh fruit thrown in is ideal. Any extra protein and fat will hinder your workout. It’s similar to the 2 hours prior snack, but since your body can only convert 200 to 300 calories into energy in a given hour you’ll want to keep the portions smaller.

Less than 1 hour: Try not to eat during the last hour before your workout. If you haven’t eaten in hours, liquid fuels, like juice, or easily digestible carbs, like half of a banana, will digest fast enough to help you during the later stages of the workout when your glycogen would otherwise run out. This is also a good time for targeting caffeine intake for ergogenic benefit.

How to Cook Lentils

After posting lentil salad recipes earlier this month, a few readers emailed asking how to properly cook lentils. It then dawned on me that many recipes include pre-cooked items such as lentils, chicken, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. And while some of you are expert chefs, I wanted to even the playing field with how-to articles that will teach you how to cook the basics – starting with lentils! Keep an eye out over the next few months for more how-to’s!

How to cook lentils

Lentils are cheap, quick to cook, and loaded with fiber and protein. When eaten together with rice, they form a complete vegetarian protein. Look for them in the bulk bins of your grocery store, or packaged with other dried beans. Some markets sell pre-cooked lentils, but they are easy to make yourself and cost just pennies per serving.

Lentils come in a variety of colors, from brilliant orange and red to muted green and brown, and each has its own flavor and texture profile. It’s also important to note that the cooking time differs between each.


Brown Lentils

Whether they are a light, khaki color or dark greenish-brown, brown lentils are the most common type of lentils. They have a mild, creamy flavor similar to kidney beans. These are the lentils used in our recipe below. They hold their shape well, but can also be easily mashed to form bean burgers or vegetarian meatloaf.  Brown lentils have a similar cooking time to white rice, so you can cook them together with a variety of spices, like cumin, curry, or cardamom.
Varieties: Spanish Brown, German Brown, Indian Brown
Cooking time: 20–30 minutes


How to cook brown lentils

Green Lentils

Ranging from pale sage in color to dark green mottled with brown or black, green lentils have a robust earthy and slightly peppery flavor. They generally take the longest to cook, and when done, their exterior texture remains firm, while the interior is tender. Because they hold their shape so well, they are ideal as a hearty side dish or served as a bed for proteins.
Varieties: Puy, French Green
Cooking Time: 30–40 minutes

How to cook green lentils


Red Lentils:

These thin discs look similar to split peas. Red lentils are the sweetest and mildest pulse in the lentils family and range in color from red to pink to pale yellow. This variety cooks quickly and breaks down to form a flavorful, thick paste that is perfect for soups, stews, curries, and sauces.
Varieties: Crimson or Red Chief (also known as masoor dal)
Cooking time: 15–20 minutes

How to cook red lentils


Black Lentils:

When cooked, tiny black lentils glisten like beluga caviar, creating a dramatic color contrast with other ingredients in a dish. They have a rich, nutty flavor and velvety texture that tastes great in green salads, pastas, and mixed vegetables.
Varieties: Beluga, (also known as urad dal)
Cooking Time: 30–40 minutes

How to cook black lentils

How to Cook Lentils:

Keep tasting your lentils as they cook to see if they’re the texture you want — firm if you’re eating them as a side dish, softer if they’re meant for soup or stew. Once lentils are cooked, pair them with fish, chicken, or pork loin, or keep them in the fridge to use in a buffet-style meal prep. They can also take the place of beans in soups and chilis. Want to get really adventurous? Try scrambling them with eggs, tossing them in green salads and grain bowls, and add some vinegar to help further enhance their flavor.

This recipe is for brown lentils; if using another color, just adjust the cooking time as noted above.

Total Time: 30 min.
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: 25 min.
Yield: 4 servings, ½ cup each

1 cup dry brown lentils
1¾ cups water
Sea salt (to taste; optional)

1. Sort through lentils to make sure there are no small stones. Rinse lentils in colander under cool water.
2. Bring water and salt to a boil in medium saucepan over high heat; add lentils.
3. Bring back to a boil; cover, and reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil; cook for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.

To add even more flavor, use broth instead of water.
Have a rice cooker? Using 1:1.75 water ratio and make them with the touch of a button.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 113
Total Fat: 0 g
Total Carbs: 19 g (Fiber: 10 g; Sugars: 1 g)
Protein: 8 g


Try Your Lentil Cooking Skills In These Recipes:

Lentil and Feta Salad

Lentil and Feta Salad Recipe
What you’ll need to make it:
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp. dried thyme (or 1½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme)
Sea salt and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
3 cups cooked lentils
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
3 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
¾ medium red onion, finely chopped
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
Find out how to make the recipe.


Lentil Lime Salad

Lentil Lime Salad Healthy Recipe
What you’ll need to make it:
1 cup cooked green lentils
1 medium carrot, shredded
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1½ tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Braggs Liquid Aminos
Himalayan salt (to taste; optional)
¼ tsp. ground cumin (to taste; optional)
Fresh herbs like basil and oregano (to taste; optional)
Find out how to make the recipe.

Mango Salad

Mangos are back in season! This mango salad is kicked up with a zing of jalapeno and is a great—and easy—side salad that you can pair with almost any meal.

Mango salad recipe

Mango Salad

Total Time: 20 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: None
Yield: Makes 4 servings

2 medium mangoes, peeled, cut into half-inch cubes
½ medium red onion, finely chopped
½ medium jalapeno (or Serrano chile), cut in half, seeds removed, finely chopped
¼ cup 100% orange juice
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
Sea salt (to taste; optional)
8 cups baby greens (or arugula)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine mangoes, onion, jalapeno, orange juice, cilantro, and salt (if desired) in a medium bowl; mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Place greens in a large bowl.
3. Drizzle oil over greens; toss gently to blend.
4. Add mango mixture; toss gently to blend.
5. Divide salad evenly among four plates. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 115
Total Fat: 4 g
Total Carbs: 20 g (Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 17 g)
Protein: 2 g

Huevos Rancheros

This Mexican egg dish makes a perfect breakfast/brunch! The recipe is already protein-packed, but you can add black beans to up the grams (and flavor) even more!

Huevos rancheros healthy recipe

Huevos Rancheros

Total Time: 35 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 25 min.
Yield: 4 servings

2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (4-oz.) can diced green chiles
½ tsp. ground chili powder
¼ tsp. sea salt
Nonstick cooking spray
4 large eggs
4 corn tortillas, warm
2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. shredded Monterey jack cheese
Cilantro leaves (for garnish; optional)

1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
3. Add tomatoes and green chiles; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
4. Season with chili powder and salt; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.
5. Heat large nonstick skillet, lightly coated with spray, over medium heat.
6. Add eggs one at a time, taking care egg whites don’t touch; cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Remove lid. Cook to desired yolk consistency. Remove from heat.
7. Top each tortilla evenly with onion mixture. Top gently with egg and top evenly with red onion and cheese.
8. Garnish with a cilantro leaf if desired.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 191
Total Fat: 9 g
Carbohydrates: 19 g (Fiber: 3 g; Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 9 g

Beef and Broccoli with Red Bell Pepper Recipe

This healthy broccoli and beef stir-fry gets vibrant color and a boost of vitamin C from red bell peppers.

Beef and broccoli recipe

beef and broccoli with red bell pepper

Total Time: 20 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 10 min.
Yield: 4 servings, 1 cup each

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
6 Tbsp. water, divided use
2 Tbsp. corn starch, divided use
1 Tbsp. raw honey
1 lb. raw top sirloin beef, trimmed of fat and sliced into ½-inch thick pieces
1 tsp. coconut oil
4 cups broccoli florets
2 medium bell peppers, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thin slice fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped

1. Combine soy sauce, 4 Tbsp. water, 1 Tbsp. corn starch, and honey in a small bowl; mix well. Set aside.
2. Combine remaining 1 Tbsp. cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. water in a large bowl; mix well. Add beef. Toss gently to coat.
3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Add beef; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, or until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from skillet, keep warm.
5. Add broccoli, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger to skillet; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes. Place broccoli mixture in beef bowl.
6. Add soy sauce mixture to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 30 seconds, or until thickened.
7. Return beef and broccoli mixture to skillet; cook, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until well mixed and heated through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 237
Total Fat: 6 g
Total Carbohydrates: 17 g (Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 28 g


10 Healthier Super Bowl Sunday Snacks

It happens every year. Mere weeks after resolving to lose the love handles, we face a day devoted to sitting on the couch and filling our bellies with hot wings, nachos, and beer. Americans consume more calories on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year. The food, most of it smothered in cheese and dripping with fat, gets as much attention as the football game (and the commercials), and it’s easy to eat an entire day’s worth (or more) of calories by halftime.

I realize this isn’t going to be your healthiest day of the year and that, like me, you’re probably going to indulge. I’m here to help you minimize the damage, and get through it without totally sacking your fitness goals. You don’t have to avoid every tempting platter of appetizers, but I’ve assembled 10 healthier recipes to give you an alternative to the unhealthy stuff.

Sweet Potato Skins with Turkey Bacon

Replace the fried white potatoes with nutrient-packed, baked sweet potatoes in this light and healthy makeover of a popular bar snack. Instead of bacon and sour cream, this recipe uses turkey bacon and Greek yogurt. Get the recipe.


Buffalo Chicken Tenders with Blue Cheese Dip

These tangy, spicy chicken tenders dipped in creamy blue cheese sauce are delicious enough to make you forget they’re only 158 calories per serving. Get the recipe.

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Nachos with Baked Tortilla Chips

These nachos, made with freshly-baked tortilla chips, are pretty addictive and only 258 calories per serving! Get the recipe.

Healthier Nachos with Baked Tortilla Chips

Pita Pizza

Pitas make an ideal pizza crust! These pita pizzas are topped with basil, peppers, and onion. Create a pizza station and let people top their own pitas with a variety of vegetables or lean proteins. Get the recipe.


Vegan Habanero Chili

This hot, flavorful chili is tasty, filling, and vegan. Get the recipe.

Vegan Habanero Chili

Healthier Seven-Layer Dip

What is a game day buffet table without a seven-layer dip? I created a lighter version that has all of the flavor and only 136 calories per serving. Get the recipe.


French Onion Dip

French onion dip is the go-to appetizer at most every party. While it’s usually made from a powdered mix and sour cream, I experimented with a healthier way to create this favorite dip from scratch using caramelized onions and nonfat yogurt. The result? It’s even tastier than the original. Get the recipe.

Healthier French Onion Dip

Simple Chunky Salsa

Here’s a new recipe for America’s favorite condiment that gets an extra crunch from bell pepper.  Get the recipe.

Simple Chunky Salsa


According to Wikipedia, 8,000,000 pounds of guacamole is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. You might need to double this recipe! Get the recipe.


Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

These baked corn tortilla chips taste fresh and have a satisfying crunch you’ll love, without the guilt. Serve with my seven-layer dip or dress them up with a squeeze of fresh lime and a touch of salt. Get the recipe.

Baked Tortilla Chips

Extra Points:

1. Don’t arrive for kick-off with an empty stomach. Drink Shakeology or eat a light meal with lean protein before game time. This will help curb junk food cravings.

2. The best seat in the house is not front-and-center – if there is a table filled with food within arms reach. Stake out a seat near the game but away from the junk.

3. Watch the game (and the commercials!). Talk to your friends. Cheer for your team. Heckle the other team. The more involved you are in the real action, the less likely you’ll be to absentmindedly munch.

4. Beer will be flowing. Have a plan for how many you’re going to drink before you start. Slow your intake, and ward off a Monday morning hangover by drinking tall glass of water between each beer.

5. Fit in a game day workout! Go for a jog or try one of my quick & easy workouts prior to the party.

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Sweet Potato Skins with Turkey Bacon and Tomatoes Recipe

Nutritious baked sweet potatoes replace fried white potatoes in this healthy makeover of a popular bar snack. Instead of fatty bacon and sour cream, this sweet potato skins recipe uses turkey bacon and nonfat Greek yogurt. With only 190 calories per serving, they make a delicious snack, and can even be eaten for lunch or dinner.

Sweet Potato Skins

Total Time: 20 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 10 min.
Yield: 4 servings

4 baked medium sweet potatoes, cut in half
1 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
8 Tbsp. low-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 slices cooked turkey bacon, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
8 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Heat oven to 400° F.
2. Scoop flesh out of sweet potatoes and reserve for another use.
3. Place skins on a baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp.
4. Top each sweet potato half evenly with yogurt, turkey bacon, tomato, and green onions.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 190
Total Fat: 3 g
Total Carbohydrates: 34 g (Fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 7 g

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Buffalo Chicken Tenders with Blue Cheese Dip

These tangy, spicy chicken tenders dipped in creamy blue cheese sauce are delicious enough to make you forget they’re only 158 calories per serving.

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Buffalo Chicken tenders with blue cheese dip

Total Time: 50 min.
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: 15 min.
Yield: 4 servings

4 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce (like Frank’s®), divided use
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 dash cayenne pepper (to taste; optional)
1 lb. raw chicken tenders
¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
4 medium celery stalks, cut into sticks

1. Combine 1 Tbsp. hot sauce, vinegar, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne in a small bowl; mix well.
2. Add chicken; toss to coat. Marinate, covered, in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375° F.
4. Place chicken in a baking dish. Discard any remaining marinade. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
5. Combine yogurt and cheese in a small bowl; mix well. Set aside.
6. Combine chicken and remaining 3 Tbsp. hot sauce in a large bowl; toss gently to blend.
7. Serve chicken with dip and celery.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 158
Total Fat: 4 g
Total Carbohydrates: 3 g (Fiber: 1 g;  Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 26 g

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Nachos with Baked Tortilla Chips Recipe

These nachos made with freshly-baked tortilla chips are going to become a snack you crave—good thing they have only 258 calories per serving!

 Healthier Nachos with Baked Tortilla Chips

nachos with baked tortilla chips

Total Time: 25 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 15 min.
Yield: 4 servings

4 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
2 tsp. olive oil
½ medium lime
1 dash chili powder
Sea salt (to taste, optional)
½ cup cooked pinto beans, warm
4 oz cheddar (or jack) cheese, shredded
2 medium tomatoes chopped
½ medium onion, finely chopped
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium jalapeno, seeds and veins discarded, finely chopped
¼ medium avocado, chopped
4 fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
2 Tbsp. reduced fat (2%) plain Greek Yogurt

1. Heat oven to 375° F.
2. Brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp.
3. Squeeze lime over chips. Sprinkle with chili powder and salt (if desired).
4. Arrange half of the tortilla chips in a medium baking dish. Layer with half the beans and cheese. Repeat.
5. Bake chip mixture for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cheese melts.
6. Top with tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, avocado, cilantro, and yogurt.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 258
Total Fat: 15 g
Carbohydrates: 22 g (Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 12 g