What to Eat Before and After Your Workout

Get the Best Out of Your Workout: What to Eat Before & After You Exercise

It’s easy to underestimate how important it is to fuel your body with food and water before and after a workout, especially if your fitness goals are weight-loss oriented. But it’s super important to give your body healthy proteins, complex carbs, and water to ensure that your body will have the energy it needs to help you achieve your fitness goals, and to help you recover after a workout. We’ve put together some tips on what to eat before and after a workout to help make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

PRE-WORKOUT

It’s super important to fuel your body with nutrients and energy to help maximize your workout performance and speed up recovery.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Make sure you plan to eat your pre-workout snack at least 1-2 hours before you start your workout. Not eating before a workout can affect your performance and leave you feeling a bit light-headed and tired. However, it’s also important not to eat too much before working out – feeling too full will just lead to discomfort or an upset stomach and will hinder your progress.

H2O!

It’s vital to drink water before, during, and after a workout. It’s recommended you drink 1 cup of water 20-30 minutes before you start exercising, and to drink water regularly throughout your workout. Taking a water break is more than just a moment to stop and catch your breath, it’s an important step to make sure you don’t become dehydrated. When you’re sweating during exercise it means your body is losing water, so it’s super important to make up for it by steadily drinking water throughout your workout.

MAKE SURE YOUR SNACK HAS CARBS & PROTEIN

Carbs are the fuel that your body will need to have a successful workout. Carbs break down into glucose in the body, which is stored as glycogen in your muscles. Your body uses this glycogen during a workout to make sure you’re performing at your best. Eating carbs before a workout ensures that your body has extra glycogen stored – if your body is low on glucose you’ll likely be more tempted to take a nap than to pick up those kettlebells.

It’s also important to make sure your pre-workout snack is rich in protein, especially if you’re doing strength training. Your body needs protein to replenish your muscles and make sure you’re benefiting from lifting those weights. The best sources of protein for a pre-workout snack are foods like nuts, Greek yogurt, milk, or a hard-boiled egg.

Some Snacks to Try:

Apple or pear slices with nut butter

This is a great snack because it will prevent you from having a sugar crash, and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The protein in the peanut butter will squash your hunger and amp-up your energy levels. If you want to cut down on sugar, try this with all-natural peanut butter!

Greek yogurt with fruit & granola

This snack is light and easy on your stomach.  The healthy sugars in the fruit will provide you with a quick energy boost, and the protein in the yogurt will help keep you from feeling hungry. Try this with plain Greek yogurt and a little bit of honey, or add some healthy fats like nuts, pumpkin seeds, or chia seeds.

Oatmeal with fresh berries

The fibre in the oatmeal will help satisfy your hunger without being too heavy, while the natural sugar in the berries will give you a little boost of energy.

POST-WORKOUT

After a workout your body goes into recovery mode, so it’s vital to refuel with nutrient-rich foods that help to ensure you’re benefiting from your workout. If you decide to skip eating after a workout, it will be harder to make progress and achieve your fitness goals, because you’re not replenishing your body or promoting muscle recovery.

REHYDRATE ASAP!

Make sure you rehydrate after a workout as soon as you can – don’t stop drinking water just because you’re done exercising! Deciding how much to drink depends on the type of exercise you did, the environment (were you working out outside in the middle of summer or in an air-conditioned gym?), and the length and intensity of your workout. It’s also important to pay attention to your body, because each person’s needs will be different.

EAT SOMETHING

Remember that your body has used up its glycogen, so it’s important to refuel so you’re back to functioning in tip-top shape. It’s okay if you can’t eat a full meal right away – but eat a small snack and then a meal a couple of hours later. It’s important to eat complex carbs and healthy protein after a workout – your body needs sustainable energy to continue to function after a workout. Complex carbs break down slowly in the body, providing you with long-lasting energy. Eating is essential to refill glycogen stores, stabilize blood sugar, and to provide your body with a boost of energy.

TRY NOT TO OVERCOMPENSATE

It’s important not to eat too much after a workout, especially if your fitness goal is related to weight loss. It’s also important to pay attention to the types of foods you’re refueling with. Foods like fish, beans, tofu, quinoa, brown rice, and nuts are the perfect kinds of proteins and complex carbs. Try to stay away from processed and fried foods when refueling after a workout – you might end up eating more calories than you burned.

Some Snacks to Try:

Wheat Toast with nut butter and sliced banana or strawberries

This snack is perfect post-workout when you aren’t able to make or eat a meal right away. The wheat toast will provide you with complex carbs and the nut butter will provide you with healthy protein to kick-start muscle repair. The natural sugar in the fruit will give you a little boost of energy.

*Change it up and sub the nut butter and fruit for mashed avocado and a sliced hard-boiled egg.

Protein-rich green smoothie

Smoothies are a perfect after-workout snack – you can add your favourite fruits, veggies, and proteins. Try fruits like banana, apple, mango, and avocado. Veggies like spinach, kale, or cucumber. And liquids for your base like almond milk, water, or coconut water. Add protein by mixing your smoothie with Greek yogurt or plant-based protein powder.

Post-Workout Meals to Try:

Veggie omelette with avocado

Omelettes are packed with protein which is perfect after a workout, especially if you’ve been doing strength training. Protein helps your muscles repair and promotes muscular growth. Avocado is rich in healthy fats, fibre, and potassium (more than a banana!).

Roasted salmon with sweet potato and spinach

Salmon is loaded with omega-3s and healthy protein, which is perfect after a workout because the protein helps to reduce inflammation, promotes recovery, and regulates insulin levels. Sweet potato is a great source of fibre and complex carbs, and spinach is rich in essential vitamins and minerals.

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