Many of our clients have asked us: “What should I eat before and after my workout?” For your body to be healthy and functioning optimally, you need to eat a well balanced and healthy diet. It is like your car’s engine. Without the proper, quality fuel it would simply stop running. Even more so, when you are working out, your nutrition plays a considerate factor, regardless if you are just at the beginning of your fitness journey or are an athlete in training. The right food at the right time, will fuel your body, boost your energy, and get you the best results. So, what should you eat before and after your workout? The answer is as always, it depends on your goals. But here is a short guideline to help you out.
Main nutrient groups that support our bodies
Your body needs lean protein, quality carbs, healthy fats, and of course, fluids.
Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your body uses it to build and repair tissue, make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
During digestion, your body is breaking down carbohydrates into glucose thus providing your body with easily accessible energy.
Our bodies need a good source of healthy fats to store energy, insulate us, and protect our vital organs. Fats also act as messengers, helping proteins do their job.
Keep your goal in mindWhen you are looking to nourish your body by making changes to your diet, it is paramount to keep the goal in mind? Are you looking to lose weight? Then you should lean more towards certain food than others. Are you trying to build muscle, or simply trying to strengthen your immune system and overall well-being? Do you have any food allergies or intolerances? These goals and restrictions will all have an impact on what you eat and how much of it.
When to eat before or after your workoutTiming often depends on your body and digestive system. In general, eat no later than one hour before your activity and within 30 minutes after finishing your workout. Observe how you are feeling though and adjust, as necessary.
What to eat before your workoutBefore you are working out, you want to fuel your body with exactly the right nutrients, so you have enough energy without feeling weighed down. Banana: Bananas offer easy to digest carbs and are a good source of antioxidants and potassium, a mineral that may help prevent muscle cramps.
Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter is a good source of protein and due to its carbohydrate, fiber, and fat content a well-balanced source of energy. Beware of the wide variety of Peanut Butters available. Choose only real peanut butter, that consists of only peanuts, and maybe a bit of salt. Nothing else, please.
Granola-Protein Bar: A well-chosen granola bar provides your body with easily accessible energy via its carbohydrates and protein content. Please make sure to read the labels: The best protein bars have no more than 13 grams of sugar. We would recommend finding the ones that offer the best flavour and texture for your taste.
Dried Fruit: Dried fruit, ideally unsweetened, contain a lot of fiber and is a great source of antioxidants. Among many other benefits, fiber is vital to keep your digestion regular and the antioxidants in dried fruit promote and improve blood flow and good cardiac health.
Whole Grain Toast: Whole grain toast is packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals. Your body turns the carbohydrates in whole-grain toast into easily accessible energy, which is ideal before a workout.
Nuts: Nuts are a good source of fat, protein, and fiber. They also contain several vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin E. The fats in nuts offer omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats that the body needs in support of its organs. We suggest almonds and walnuts as preferred nuts due to their unique nutritional values.
What to eat after your workout
After your workout is the optimal time to offer your body an extra boost of high quality, lean protein, such as fish, eggs, and chicken, to prevent muscle breakdown and to strengthen your immune system.
Protein Shake: When you are looking for a high-quality protein shake, make sure to read the label. You want to look for a product that contains 20gr of protein per serving. It will reduce your appetite and help your post-workout body lose fat without losing muscle. We like the Vega brand because it offers a lot of vitamins and minerals.
Banana: see above
Fruit: When it comes to fruit after working out it is all about variety. If you are looking to lose weight however, we would recommend staying away from tropical fruit as its sugar content is higher than in other fruits. Pineapples, for example, are higher in sugar but provide you with plenty of benefits like antioxidants, beneficial enzymes, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties.
Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese is rich in protein, maintains blood sugar levels, improves digestion, and is a good source of folate.
Greek Yogurt with a sprinkle of granola: Greek yogurt is high in protein and low in carbs when compared to regular yogurt. It promotes fullness and is chock full of probiotics and vitamin B12.
We would always recommend opting for full-fat Greek yogurt and ensuring portion control. Most people who want to lose weight, and therefore fat, are not getting enough healthy fats in their diet.
Quinoa with a side of veggies: Quinoa is much higher in fiber than most grains, gluten-free, high protein with essential amino acids, and ranks low on the glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar control. Add some veggies to it to add more essential vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
Foods to stay away from
Foods that you should generally, but specifically stay away from after a workout are fried foods, greasy burgers, and soft drinks. They contain non-healthy fats, are high in sugar and simple carbs, and weigh down your digestion.
Whatever foods you choose to support your body before and after working out, always keep your goal in mind and do not forget to re-hydrate.
If you are still unsure about what to eat and when to eat it or simply feel overwhelmed by the myriad of nutritional information out there, we are happy to help you get started. Check out our nutrition plan packages or contact us directly to get your very own personal meal plan.