You pre workout and post workout meals will have a major effect on your results. This article explores what you should be eating before and after your gym session.
Planning your pre-workout and post workout meals is a vital part of your diet and exercise routine.
It is important that you consume the right food in order to optimize your workout and stay energized throughout and after.
Certain foods will allow you to make the most of your daily exercise plan, and there is a difference between the types of foods you should eat before and after your workout.
If you are bodybuilding and looking to bulk up – this article will better suit you.
What to Eat Before Working Out
If you are looking for some ideas for your pre-workout planning, try these tips and snack ideas to help give you a boost in your workout.
Have a Balance of Carbs and Protein … and Some Fat
While protein is an important part of any pre-workout diet, making sure you have enough carbohydrates is equally important.
Carbohydrates are what give you energy and sustain you through your workout. Make sure to consume an even mixture of simple and complex carbohydrates as well.
This will allow your body to release energy at a steady rate. Try combining bread, which includes complex carbs, with fruit, which includes simple carbs.
For example, a piece of whole grain toast with slices of banana makes for an excellent pre-workout snack. Oatmeal is an even better choice than bread as they are known to release their energy slowly.
Bananas, in general, are great for long workouts, as they provide the body with potassium, one of the important body electrolytes, which you lose when you sweat.
An apple with peanut or almond butter is a great snack to combine protein with fruit as well.
Apples are rich in antioxidants and essential vitamins, and will help you avoid a sugar crash mid workout. Another great snack to consider is trail mix and Greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, and it will give you the energy you need for that long run.
When it comes to trail mix, choose one that has a high concentration of nuts and dried fruit. Try to avoid the chocolaty and overly salty kinds, as they are filled with unhealthy simple carbs and high doses of sodium.
These types of options are likely to give you a sugar crash or cause you to retain unwanted amounts of water during and after your workout.
Read before consuming
Make sure to read the contents and ingredients of something before you consume it. This is a good practice in general, but it especially applies before a workout.
While many protein bars claim to optimize your workout, not all of them actually do. In fact, many of them are highly-processed foods, high in simple sugar, and therefore, your energy will diminish quickly.
These are basically candy bars in disguise. When looking for a good protein bar, consider one that is higher than 200 calories and has at least 5 grams of protein.
In addition, if you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize the ingredients in something, chances are it isn’t good for you.
Try a smoothie mixed with fruit instead. Or, especially if you are working out in the morning, oatmeal mixed with fruit is a great alternative to the elusive protein bar. Just like protein bars, energy drinks can also be misleading.
Drinks that claim to replenish your electrolytes are often also loaded with sugar. Make sure to read the contents before consuming these as well. As an alternative, try a protein milkshake.
Timing is everything
Timing your pre-workout meal is just as important as choosing what to eat. And, your timing and the amount you consume has everything to do with the length of your workout. If you only plan to exercise for a half hour, you only need to consume a small portion.
Eating a huge meal right before your short workout will make you feel sluggish. If you plan to exercise for just a short stint, try snacking on string cheese mixed with some multi grain crackers.
This will provide you with just the right amount of energy. On the other hand, if you plan to exercise for a prolonged period of time, you might try a more substantial meal that will help you get through the workout.
In keeping with balancing carbs with protein, try a turkey or chicken sandwich for a longer workout.
This will give you the energy and the protein you need to sustain you. If you are more adventurous, try several hard-boiled eggs, take out the yolk, and replace it with hummus.
Hopefully you will find these tips helpful when planning your pre-workout meals. Remember that a good mixture of carbs and proteins is necessary for you to make your workout really count.
Avoid overly simple sugars, and control your portions as they relate to the length of your workout. Following these simple steps will make you more prepared.
Best Foods to Eat Before Working Out
- Fruit smoothies.
- Yogurt parfaits with granola and fruit.
- Whole grain bread with a couple of slices of lean meat.
- Chicken with rice and vegetables.
- Apples with peanut butter and raisins.
- Greek yogurt.
Foods to Eat After Going to the Gym
In order to make the most of your diet and exercise plan, it is important to plan your post-workout meals with as much thought as your pre-workout.
For the most part, a health conscious person will do a fairly good job of regulating his or her diet in conjunction with his or her daily exercise routine.
Others need a little more help, especially when thinking about what to eat after a workout. You might get in the habit of pigging out after a long workout.
You justify it in your head by saying that you deserve the large and unhealthy meal. This post-workout habit is just one example of what you might try to avoid.
The following tips and snack ideas will help you plan your post-workout meals and give you an extra boost in reaching your goals.
Drinking the right fluids post-workout
Thinking about your post-workout fluids is just as important to optimizing your workout as your post-workout meal.
For the most part, the average person will lose approximately one litre of fluid during one hour of exercise.
Therefore, it is important that you replenish your fluids after you exercise. It is recommended that you consume at least 16-20 ounces of water just after your workout.
This will help speed up your post-workout recovery. Another suggestion that you might consider is to weigh yourself both before and after you work out.
Then, you will know how many ounces of water weight you have lost, and you can replenish the same amount of fluids.
Drinking sports drinks that are high in electrolytes will also help you replenish those fluids. Just remember, though, that not every sports drink is created equally. Many of them contain a lot of sugar. Read the ingredients before choosing your sports drink.
Time your meals
The best time to eat a snack or a meal is 30 minutes to 2 hours after your workout. This is when your body is most ready to refuel.
If this doesn’t work for you or you aren’t hungry during that time, your body will still be able to replenish itself during the next 24 hour period.
If this is the case, try a smaller snack to tide you over until you have a generous portion of food.
And, make sure to eat enough food to sustain yourself until your next workout. Eating too little can cause harm to your body.
Choosing the Right Post-Workout Meal or Snack
As mentioned before, choosing the right meal plan after your workout is essential to helping you meet your goals.
Remember, over indulging after a workout can cause you to go the opposite direction of where you want to be with your diet and exercise plan.
On the other hand, over-obsessing with what you eat after your workout can also be unhelpful, and may even cause you undue stress.
For the most part, if you are within your typical calorie range each day, then you have no reason to worry.
As a general rule of thumb, your calorie intake after your workout should amount to about 50% of the calories that you worked off during your exercise routine.
For example, if you burned 800 calories, then you should consume 400 calories post-workout.
The best foods to eat after your workout are rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. In fact, most of your calories should come from carbohydrates.
If you prepare meals that contain 60 percent carbs, you are on the right track. Choosing meals and snacks that are rich in carbohydrates allows your body to refuel the muscles.
It’s even OK to add some simple carbohydrates during this particular time, as your body will be ready to use these types of foods.
Along with the carbohydrates, a healthy amount of protein is also essential to your post-workout meal.
If you don’t have enough protein in your system, your body could begin to break down muscle tissue, which can be harmful. It’s best to allow 25% of your consumed calories to come from protein after any workout.
When it comes to getting the right balance of carbs and protein, there are quite a few snacks you can try.
A peanut butter sandwich is a great example. You could also try pairing fruit with cheese, which will give you a great combination of sugar and protein.
For those who like to work out in the morning, try an omelette with a side of toast. Or, make a smoothie and add in protein powder for some added boost.
All of these meals will give you enough energy to refuel your body.
Some Post Workout Snacks
- Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.
- Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast.
- Salmon with sweet potato.
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread.
- Tuna and crackers.
- Oatmeal, whey protein, banana and almonds.
- Cottage cheese and fruits.
- Pita and hummus.