Most of us hit the gym with the goal of losing weight, getting in shape and leading a healthy lifestyle. We know that if we pair an active lifestyle with a healthy diet, we can achieve the perfect balance and see results.
But one of the most common questions we get is, “What should I eat before and after my workout?” The answer differs on a case-by-case basis. However, some basics apply to everyone across the board, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a fitness enthusiast.
Fuel your body pre-workout
When it comes to fitness, everything matters including what you put in your body before a workout. What you eat, and when you eat, can have a great impact on your performance. As a general rule of thumb, aim to eat a snack one to four hours before your workout. And, no, carbs are not bad. In fact, carbs are energy. When consumed, they break down into glucose before entering our muscle cells and give us fuel to exercise.
Some foods with carbs we recommend eating before a workout for quick energy include:
- Half a peanut butter and banana sandwich
- Greek yogurt with fresh berries
- Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit or a granola bar
- Fresh apple slices with peanut or almond butter
- A handful of nuts and raisins
Compensate your body post-workout
Fueling your body before a workout is important. But compensating your body after a workout is out of the question. You need and should eat after a workout, ideally within an hour of completing physical activity to help replenish the glycogen that has been depleted. And, consuming protein after a workout is necessary for speedy muscle recovery.
Not eating after a workout can lead to feeling fatigued and contribute to low blood sugar. By doing this, you’re also obstructing your body’s repair process and, if done regularly, you will find it harder to reach your fitness goals. Here’s what we recommend you eat after a workout:
- Post-workout recovery smoothie (or post-workout smoothie made with low-fat milk and fruit)
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Turkey on a whole-grain wrap with veggies of your preference
- Low-fat yogurt with fresh berries
- A small bowl of quinoa with fish
- A small bowl of brown rice with tofu
Don’t forget, hydrating before, during and after a workout is equally important. To sum it all up, fueling your body with the right nutrients before a workout maximizes your performance and recovery. Similarly, replenishing your body with the right foods after a workout prompts muscle protein synthesis, an improved recovery and enhanced performance during your next workout.
Everyone’s body and needs are different. These, however, are some basic guidelines that you can easily follow and customize to your personal preferences. Have a good, healthy workout!