One of the most common questions that I get asked as a fitness trainer is, “What should I eat before and after a workout?”
In the same way, our fitness goals differ, our nutritional needs are different as well. This answer may depend more on the individual and their specific activity, however, there are general truths that play a role in any pre-and post-workout nutrition plan whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned athlete.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best not to eat immediately before a workout. You will need to give your body adequate time to digest the food in your stomach. These competing demands are a challenge for optimal performance. So how long before a workout should you eat? If you want to eat a pre-workout meal, I recommend eating 2-3 hours before your training session. This is to give your body optimal time to digest your meal so you can exercise to the best of your ability.
The right foods can give you pre-workout energy, help with muscle recovery, and help you achieve your dream physique more easily.
So what should you be eating? Here’s what you need to know.
WHAT TO EAT PRE-WORKOUT
Don’t skip the carbs!
The most important component of your pre-workout meal or snack is carbohydrate-rich foods. Carbohydrates deliver quick and easy energy to the body, which will help your muscles exercise better. Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 4 hours pre-workout, depending on how your body tolerates food
Think of carbs as your natural energy boost! If you are eating a pre-workout snack, then it should be within 1 hour before your training session.
What should I include in my pre-workout food or snack?
The best carb sources to include are fruits, vegetables, oats, rice cakes, and crackers.
Here are some examples of great pre-workout snacks:
- A protein bar and apples (any piece of fruit)
- Toast with banana and honey
- Rice cakes with almond butter
- Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit
WHAT TO EAT POST-WORKOUT
How long should you wait to eat after your workout?
As minimal time as possible! Try to eat within an hour of completing an intense workout. It is important to replenish your muscles with essential nutrients. Your body uses stored energy (glycogen) in your muscles to power through your workout, but after that workout, you will need to replenish the nutrients lost.
What to do?
What should you include in your post-workout meal or snack?
The most important elements of your post-workout meal or snack should be carbs (to replenish muscular energy) and protein (to promote muscle recovery and growth).
This will give your muscles the ability to replenish the glycogen It has just lost through training and helps your muscles rebuild and repair with the available protein and amino acids.
Examples of carb sources include fruits, veggies, rice, bread, pasta, and oats.
Examples of protein sources include Greek yogurt, protein powder, lean meats, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
Here are some examples of post-workout foods:
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Apple with peanut butter
- Rice with a protein source like chicken or tofu
- A protein shake, fruit, and almond milk
- Boiled eggs on rice cakes
- A protein smoothie
Regardless of what you’re eating pre or post-workout, keep these points in mind; Protein is there to build and repair your muscles after a workout and your body needs carbs to fuel your working muscles.