Pre-workout “Powerballs”

“You don’t need to win the lottery to feel this great!”

That’s my tagline for these nummy things.  Corny?  Yes.  True?  Yes.  Well, mostly.  But I don’t really care either way!

Ever done a really intense workout that turned your tummy upside-down halfway through?  Maybe left you cursing those darn eggs that won’t cooperate with your squats?  Well now I know your struggles.  I’m totally with you. 

Training for this bikini competition has been tough, yes, it’s been demanding, sure, but it’s really the whole food timing thing that has me all discombobulated.  Some people – trainers, nutritionists, and bikini competitor all-stars alike – swear by the virtue of a pre-workout breakfast.  No matter what.  Absolutely essential. 

But, you’ll find if you start looking about, different people from those same three categories will swear that you can do GREAT things without a pre-workout breakfast.  No carbs?  No problem!  That fat burning process will start even earlier.

So as you can imagine, I’ve been digging around all over to try to find the most reliable information out there.  What’s right?  What’s wrong?  Should I eat 6 times a day, exactly 3 hours apart?  Should I wait till after my workout to eat a big meal and then taper off my caloric intake till a few hours before bed?  More carbs in the morning, none at night?  Carbs any time?  Barely any carbs at all?

Well I came to a conclusion.  I have an answer.  Unfortunately, it still won’t solve anything for anyone.

My conclusion is that EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. 

It’s true.  Just look around.  People with fantastic, lean, muscular bodies are walking around all over the place, looking like that because of ALL KINDS of different diet plans.

That’s why it’s really so confusing!  I kept looking at this person or that person, claiming that because they did it this way, that’s the way to go! (I mean, look at me, I’m super-fit and I did it like this.  How can you say it doesn’t work?)  Like, one girl out there eats Pop-Tarts and cheesy meatball subs every day and has a crazy-awesome competition-winning body.  But could I get away with that?  Doubtful.

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Regardless, I have decided there is a lot to be said for not only your particular metabolism (influenced by SO much more than genetics), but your own particular habits, schedule, preferences, and goals.

From this minor epiphany, I have decided not to continue on the exact eat-six-miniscule-balanced-meals-with-30-grams-protein-three-hours-apart regimen.

My hot breakfast of eggs, oatmeal, and coffee just messed me up.  Like, lunges and jump squats shouldn’t make me want to hurl.  Not in my world.  But my schedule isn’t really built around getting up super-early to eat so I can just digest for a couple hours before working out… My nights are often too late for such early hours.  But since morning workouts are SoO0o0O much more convenient for me, that’s when they happen.

Instead, if I eat something before a workout, it’s tiny.  The rest can wait.  I feel like this method is better for other reasons, too, but I won’t get into them just yet.  I’m still in my trial phases, personalizing my diet to MY OWN needs, based on what feels right for me, and what works for me, albeit by very important nutritional guidelines and medical research!

Meanwhile, I have something great for basically EVERYONE.  Yep!  Whether you like to eat before your workout, immediately after your workout, or just need a new snack to get you through the day, these Pre/Post-workout “Powerballs” are small enough to eat just one for a quick boost (sometimes that’s all you need!) or a few for some serious healthy energy/endurance/recovery.

And, man, are they delicious.  These were GONE when I brought them to work.  Bam.  Like that.  Okay, so like… try them out!

Pre-workout “Powerballs”

(Recipe updated with minor adjustments 8/12/14)

1 ½ c. and 2 c. rolled oats, separated (gluten-free oats if you want a gluten-free cookie!)

6 Medjool dates, pitted

6 dried apricots

1/2 cup liquid egg whites, or about 3 egg's whites

3 oz (or about 6 T.) pureed avocado

14 drops vanilla stevia (or 1 T. regular stevia or honey/agave/other)

1 heaping scoop or about 39 g. vanilla protein powder (I used Cytosport 100% Whey Protein)

3 oz nonfat plain Greek yogurt

¼ c. or about 7 g. stevia powder (you can use sugar for a higher-cal version - not my preference, but would work if you just want oatmeal cookies and don't have Stevia!)

This batch made exactly 35.5 cookies with my small rounded scooper, about 1 ½ rounded tablespoons each, or an average of 22 g each.  Yes, I was very precise this time!

Nutrition for THREE “fun-sized” cookies:  167 calories, 3 g fat, 29 g carbs, 9 g protein

One cookie: 56 calories, 1 g fat, 10 g carbs, 3 g protein

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, reserving the extra 2 cups rolled oats for the end.  Then scoop the batter into a large bowl and mix in the remaining 2 cups rolled oats.  Use a small scoop to portion out rounded 1 ½ tablespoons across 3 cookie sheets sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top and soft but cooked in the middle.  Cool and enjoy ASAP!