When it comes to physical activity, how you fuel your body counts. “Fuel,” in this case, means calories. By eating food that helps you with your fitness goals, you can maximize the benefits of all your hard work. Without proper fueling, your body won’t be properly prepared to work out, with adequately refueling, you can’t fully recover from the exertion and build muscle mass.
What to Eat to Fuel Up Before a Workout
Although the answer varies depending on the athlete and the specific activities they plan to do, there some common advice on what to eat for your pre- and post-workout nutrition, no matter your fitness level. You should eat about 30 minutes to 3 hours before you engage in physical activity, so you’re not still digesting once you start, because this can cause competing demands on your stomach and your muscles at the same time, and can lead to cramping or nausea. You also shouldn’t work out too long after you’ve eaten, so you won’t have burned through all the calories you ate. Note: you’re constantly burning calories, even while at rest or even sleeping.
It may surprise you, but carbohydrates are the best choice for a pre-workout snack. So, why do carbs get such a bad rep, then? Carbs are the primary fuel for your muscles, and the harder you’re exerting yourself, the more carbs you’ll need to consume. Protein, too, is a good choice to rebuild and repair muscles, which is essential if you’re doing weight or resistance training and exercises. Protein is also something you’ll need to consume again for your post-workout snack.
Some ideas for quick energy before a workout include:
- Granola bar
- Whole fruit with almond butter
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries
- Oatmeal with berries or nut butter
- Crackers and hummus
- Rice cake with nut butter
- Whole-grain toast
- Green smoothies
- Baked salmon with brown rice
Post-Workout Nutrition Tips
You need to refuel after your workout, to replace some of the calories you’ve burned. Try to eat within an hour of your workout. Again, you’ll need a combination of complex carbs and protein to refuel the nutrients you lost during your workout. Protein is a must after a workout to speed up muscle recovery. It’s also important to replenish your fluids. Getting enough water is crucial. You can add electrolyte powder to your water, as this mineral is also important to replace. If you don’t eat after working out, you’ll end up fatigued and have lower blood sugar, which could lead to a binge later.
Good ideas for post-workout snacks include:
- Recovery smoothie made with spinach, low-fat milk, and fruit
- Turkey in a whole-grain wrap with veggies
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Tofu and beans with baked fish
Learn Your Body to Know What Is Best for You
Nutrition is different from one person’s body to the next, because each person has specific needs, not to mention preferences. The key take-home points are that your body needs carbs for fuel, protein is necessary to rebuild and repair the muscles, and you should only tweak your pre- and post-workout nutrition while training, never on the day of an important physical activity, like a game day.
Ready to commit to fitness? Contact us at Soza Weight Loss at (504) 475-9817.