You’re working out for its amazing benefits for your body and mind. Giving yourself the proper fuel before and after will make sure you get the most out of the time and money you’re putting into this amazing process.
Many people, especially those relatively new to the active life, don’t prioritize pre-and post-training food, either for time limitations or they’re concerned it could conflict with weight loss goals.
But working out on an empty stomach can be counterproductive because your body may go into “survival” gear and draw energy from the very muscles you’re trying to build and maintain.
Meanwhile, eating the right foods just after your workout speeds your recovery from the beating you just took.
Because your body has different needs before and after you train, the best foods to round out a session vary. But don’t forget to hydrate well before, during and after your workout.
BEFORE YOU EXERCISE
You’ll want to have a snack 90 to 30 minutes before you start that combines protein with a simple carbohydrate so you can have a slow and steady supply of energy throughout your workout. Some good examples include:
- An apple with 2 tablespoons of almond butter.
- A half-cup of black beans with a half-cup of brown rice.
- One slice of whole wheat toast with a hard-boiled egg or some lean turkey.
- Greek yogurt (6-12 ounces) with a quarter- cup of trail mix.
- A packet of instant oatmeal with sliced banana and fruit.
- Grilled chicken breast with a small sweet potato and a cup of steamed broccoli with olive oil (this is more of a meal, but a great one if you’re hitting a circuit or building up muscle).
AFTER YOU EXERCISE
Once you’re done it’s time to speed up your recovery by refueling — the sooner the better, ideally 30 to 60 minutes later. Once you get to two hours post-workout your ability to refill your muscle stores drops by 50%, studies have shown. This can be more of a meal if it works with your schedule; still with some simple carbs but with more protein.
- A salad with light olive oil, vinegar and a half-cup of roasted chickpeas.
- One cup of chocolate milk.
- Protein shake with almond milk, a banana, scoop of protein powder and hemp seeds.
- An omelet (egg whites or two eggs) with at least half a cup of veggies and a quarter- cup of avocado.