Knowing what to eat before and after exercise can be a minefield. We are all individuals and what makes us thrive is dependent on our many unique factors. Trying different options, listening to our bodies and finding what is right for us is key to feeling energized and getting the most out of our workouts.
Good nutrition goes a long way in ensuring we perform better and are able to recover faster. The timing of pre and post-workout meals is also a very important factor to consider. Here are some guidelines to help you when choosing what to eat before and after a workout.
Eating before a workout helps to ensure we can maximize performance and minimize injury. A combination of carbohydrate, protein and fat is important as they each play their role. Carbohydrates help to maximize glycogen stores for exercise, fat helps give us fuel for endurance training and protein is essential for muscle growth, repair and recovery.
Between 3 hours and 30 minutes before exercise. The closer to your workout it becomes, the more important it is to eat simpler, more digestible foods containing simple carbohydrates and some protein. 2-3 hours pre-workout is the ideal time frame in which to consume a meal.
A meal with well-balanced macronutrient content such as a lean protein source like chicken or fish with brown rice and some vegetables or an omelet, wholegrain toast and a side salad are good options. If there is not a lot of time before a workout, opt for oatmeal topped with fruit and some nuts or seeds, or Greek yogurt with a piece of fruit.
As with pre-workout nutrition, carbohydrates and protein both play an important role after exercise. It is important to eat a combination of these after training - usually in a 3:1 (carb:protein) ratio. Carbohydrates will help to replenish lost glycogen stores - our preferred fuel when exercising - while protein will help to rebuild muscle tissue and aid in recovery. Fat, in smaller amounts, can also be part of a balanced post-workout meal.
Ideally around 45 minutes after a workout as our body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced right after we exercise.
Some ideas for post-workout meals include lean protein like fish or chicken, pulses or beans with rice or vegetables or something smaller like a smoothie made with protein powder, banana and almond milk or wholegrain crackers with nut butter.
It should be noted that hydration is also a very important factor before, during and after exercise. Ensure you take in enough water to replace fluids lost through sweating and to aid performance and recovery.
Disclaimer: The content of this email is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. References available on request.