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Fave workout playlist? Check. Cute workout outfit? Check. Bottle of water? Check. Ready to get your sweat on? Not so fast. What you eat before, and after, your workout is probably the most important component of your exercise routine. Fueling your fitness pre-workout will make sure you are getting the most out of your hard work at the gym, while eating the proper foods post-workout will help your body recover faster.
As a healthy eating coach, here are the top tips I give to my clients to ensure they’re sufficiently nourished.
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1. Carb it Up
Yes, carbs are your BFF when it comes to fueling your workouts. Carbs = energy, and NOT the enemy. You know those gym days when you barely start working out and you’re already ready to take a nap? That’s probably because you haven’t eaten enough carbs. The key is to have a mix of both complex and simple carbs to help you last throughout your workout.
Some examples: one piece of whole wheat toast; a banana; one cup of oatmeal.
2. Don’t Forget the Protein
Protein is also super important, especially if you are doing strength training, like tons of squats to boost that booty. When we exercise, we tear tiny muscle fibers, which protein helps to heal. Additionally, protein helps grow your muscles, so you’ll be able to see results quicker.
Some examples: a handful of nuts; one tablespoon of peanut butter; a hardboiled egg; a slice of turkey or chicken breast; a cup of Greek yogurt.
When you combine both protein and carbs together — like, for example, peanut butter toast with banana — you get the ultimate pre-workout snack. Remember: the ideal time to eat before your workout is 30 minutes to an hour. However, every body is different. You might have to experiment with snacks and timing, as well as with the type of exercise you’re doing, to see which works for your body best.
1. More Carbs and Protein
Complex carbs and lean protein does a body good once you’ve finished your sweat session. You need to replenish the glycogen that you sweated out (which is where the carbs come in) and you need to help your muscles recover (enter: protein).
Some examples: one cup of rice with grilled salmon; one cup of quinoa with black beans and tofu; baked sweet potato with grilled chicken; veggie omelette with a slice of toast.
2. Skip the Sugar
It’s super easy to stop by the juice bar post-workout, but try to restrain that sweet tooth. You don’t want your hard work to quickly disappear thanks to a fruity, sugary smoothie. For the most part, skip the energy drinks and snacks too. Your post-workout snack should only be 500 calories, max.
3. Hydrate Yo’self
Water, water, water! Guzzling that H20 before and after-workout is sooooo important for your body. Proper hydration minimizes your chances of dehydration and helps lubricate your joints. Ideally you should aim for 2 cups of water two hours before working out, and one cup 30 minutes before. After your workout? Try to finish off your entire water bottle. You’ll need it to help replenish any liquids lost while sweating. If you want to get technical, try weighing yourself before and after your workout, and then drink 16-ounces of water for every pound you’ve lost.
In the end, it’s all about listening to YOUR body. Everyone has different nutritional needs! So go ahead and experiment with your snacks, and get sweating!