While many workouts are specifically designed for weight loss, they also offer a number of added benefits. For instance, working out regularly can reduce the risk of many diseases, as well as improve the quality of sleep, mood and athletic performance.
But workouts demand energy and stamina so fuelling your body before and after a workout is very important.
Eating the right foods at the right time prior to and post workout can help you get the most out of your session.
Here are some ideas on what to feed your body when it is time to workout:
Eating pre workout:
Working out on an empty stomach may seem like a good idea, but can actually cause you to lose muscle before anything else. Instead, opt for one of these healthy snack/meal ideas to fuel your body properly and power through an intense session.
Carbs become energy by breaking down into glucose and providing much needed fuel to the body. Choose from simple carbs before a workout, so they get digested easily and provide quick energy.
A little protein goes a long way before a workout, especially for people who weight train. Weight training involves some degree of lifting and flexing which can create small tears in muscles. Protein consumption helps with this wear and tear allowing muscles to heal and perform optimally.
Snack and meal ideas:
- An apple or pear with 1 tbsp. of nut butter
- ¾ cups Greek yogurt with ½ cup berries and 1 tbsp. granola
- 100 calorie granola bar
- Oatmeal with ½ cup fruit
- Baked salmon with brown rice and roasted veggies
Ideally, a combination of a carbohydrate and a protein meal/ snack should be taken between 3 hours to 30 minutes before a workout. Time may vary depending on when you work out. For instance, it is hard to have a full meal if you work out first thing in the morning, so settle for a small snack/ smoothie instead. Otherwise have a full meal about 2-3 hours before a workout.
Eating post workout
Eating after a workout is equally important as you need to replenish the glycogen used up during exercise.
Now is the time to eat complex carbs which will take longer to digest and keep providing you the energy you need to replenish. Complex carbs also contain many nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber important for nourishment and recovery after exercise.
Protein after a workout is required for speedy muscle recovery. Serious athletes or weight lifters may need more protein, especially if they want to build muscle.
Snack and meal ideas:
- Protein rich green smoothie
- Quinoa crackers with a tbsp. of cashew or almond butter
- Hardboiled egg with one slice whole wheat toast
- Salad with roasted chickpeas
- Quinoa and brown rice
- Sautéed or steamed vegetables
You can have a post workout snack 20 minutes after training. It is also important to keep yourself hydrated before, during and after your workout.