Ever get confused on what you should be eating pre and post workouts and what you should be avoiding?! With so many sports drinks, bars, supplements and powders out there it is no wonder one would be unsure of what is best for you.
What you eat before and after your workouts can be more crucial than you may think. Eating right before will help give you the energy to power through your workout, and eating right after the workout will help your muscles to recover faster and come back stronger.
According to an article written on WebMd, there are ideal 5 characteristics for a pre workout meal: low fat, carbohydrates and protein, low fiber, contain fluids, and made up of familiar well-tolerated foods. This is not the time to be introducing new foods that you are unfamiliar with how your body reacts to. Also stay away from fried or greasy foods that will be hard on your stomach during your workout.
Now whether you are powering through a heart pumping cardio treadmill run, or working on building up those biceps depends on the ratio of carbs to protein you should be consuming before your workout. When you are building muscle you need a higher supply of protein for tissue repair. While on the other hand, you will need more carbs for energy
supply when powering through a cardio session.
Depending how intense your strength training workout may be depends on how much protein you’ll need. You’ll want to consume at the very least 50% of your meal as protein, the other 50% as carbohydrates, as you still need energy to get through any workout. If your workout is more intense, feel free to bump up that protein intake to 75%.
You will want to consume this meal about 1-2 hours before your workout to make sure you have a reserve supply of protein ready to for the upcoming workout. Some great suggestions would be an egg white omelet with toast and skim milk. Or Greek yogurt topped with walnuts and honey. Depending on if this is your meal or snack for the day will determine how much you should be eating.
Now with cardio sessions, you will want mostly carbohydrates to make up your pre-workout meal to boost blood sugar levels to give you enough energy to make it through your workout. Aim for about 75% carbohydrates for your pre-meal. You want to still add protein to your pre-workout meal to help prevent any fatigue that could be caused from consuming an only carbohydrate meal. Meals such as oatmeal or whole grain cereal topped with raisins and walnuts with skim milk should do the trick. This needs to be consumed about 30-60 minutes before hitting that treadmill.
After your workout there is a time period called the “recovery period”. This time is crucial for refueling and replenishing your body with all the nutrients that were lost in the workout. Again it depends on if you were doing a cardio or strength training workout.
You have about an hour or two after an intense strength training workout to repair your muscles, replenish the glycogen stores, and prevent muscle soreness. This is the prime time where protein is used to build lean muscles instead of being stored as fat, so you will want to take advantage of this time.
Protein shakes are always a good choice to help get in your protein as a quick fix, yet whole foods are going to be your best option in providing you with more nutrients. Food items such as: eggs, fish, chicken and cottage cheese will not only supply you with ample amounts of protein for your recovery, but they will also provide you with essential
vitamins and nutrients.
When it comes to cardio workouts your goal is again to replenish the glycogen and energy stores. Try foods with whole grains, fruits and veggies. Piece of whole wheat toast, banana, or small sweet potato are all great examples.
With both cardio and strength training workouts you are going to want to make sure you rehydrate. A large amount of water is lost through perspiration, especially in cardio workouts. Pure water is the best source for the average exerciser. Although if your cardio session is lasting longer than 2 hours, you will want to rehydrate with electrolytes as
well, sports drinks will be your best bet here.
There is a great chart online at Visual.ly that shows you an Ultimate Guide to Workout Nutrition. It provides you with many ideas of foods you can eat to help give you the most out of your workout, along with many of the same tips and advice I just shared.
Get to know your body and how it responds to exercise to know what you need to give your body to perform its best. Everybody is going to be different and every workout may need different things to replenish. Find what works best for you. Eating the right things during the right times after you workout is crucial to keeping your energy up, your workout
performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode.