Considering the millions of options available, choosing what to eat before and after a workout is quite challenging. If you can relate, this article is for you!
Working out regularly is vital for optimal health. However, you need to accompany your workout with a proper diet to actualize the benefits of your workout. Whatever you eat before and after a workout session directly influences your energy levels, mood, and how long it will take for your muscles to repair themselves.
Many things come into play when choosing what foods will work for each individual, as there is no one size fits all catalog. For starters, the duration of your workout, body weight, and so forth will determine the ideal portions and nutrients.
With that said, if you have ever wondered what foods will work best, this post contains important information and suggestions on what to eat before and after a workout.
What Should a Post-Workout Meal Include?
The intensity, duration, and body weight play a huge part in which type of foods you should reach out for after a workout. Therefore, it’s imperative to learn about your body– assess your body goals to determine which foods will work best.
Regardless of your choice, everyone needs to eat foods rich in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins after any workout. Here is why:
When working out, your body breaks down proteins in your muscles, leaving you with muscle tears. Therefore, you will need to consume foods that contain ample amino acids that will aid in repairing the damaged muscle protein and building new muscle.
According to trusted sources, you need to consume at least 20 to 40 grams of protein after a workout to help you rebuild the muscles. Don’t wait more than 2 hours after your workout, as that will remove the desired effects.
If you are trying to build muscles, consider eating the amount mentioned after every 4 hours post-workout to help create muscle tissue. But, this will only work if you exercise in equal measure to your goals.
After every workout, it is imperative to replenish your fuel reserves by eating carbohydrates. It will give you energy for your next workout and for the rest of the day.
The amount of carbohydrates you need is determined by the intensity of your workout and the ideal workout time. According to experts, you need about 8 to 12 grams of carbs per kg of body weight for ample glycogen synthesis.
There isn’t enough research to justify that eating foods rich in fat has notable benefits after a workout. However, limited research shows that fatty foods help the body absorb carbs and proteins better. Also, they make you feel fuller for longer, albeit you from overeating.
Please note that not all fatty foods are nutritious and healthy. Therefore, find out whether the fats you are ingesting are good for you.
Post-Workout Food Ideas
According to recent studies, when you leave your workout nutrition to your intuition, there is a higher chance that you will end up ingesting food that has little to no nutritional value. Therefore, you should be intentional with your choices.
That said, below are some healthy after-workout food choices:
- Eggs with whole bread toast with peanut butter
- Ricotta or cottage cheese
- Salmon with rice
- Sweet potato
- Quinoa, tofu, and stir fry veggies
- Sandwich with turkey and tomatoes, and avocado
- Chocolate milk with a veggie and chicken stuffed pita bread
- Tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread and trail mix
- Tuna salad with grain crackers
What Should a Pre-workout Meal Include?
Proper nutrition before a workout is important. Not only does it give you the fuel you need, but also it helps minimize the recovery damage. Also, timing your workout perfectly after your meal is important to ensure you reap the necessary benefits.
Therefore, consider the time it will take for the food to be digested and work out afterward. Some take one hour, while others must wait at least four hours. Here are the types of food groups to consider before a workout.
Carbohydrates provide you with the necessary energy required to work out. When your glycogen levels deplete during the workout, the carbohydrates you ingested will help you replenish the stores in real-time, considering exercise boosts the rate of carb oxidation.
Taking protein-rich foods before a workout has a ton of advantages, such as:
- Improves muscle performance during exercise
- Increases overall strength
- Improved muscle mass
- Reduces muscle damage
Pre-Workout Food Ideas
Considering it is challenging to determine what you want to eat before a workout, below are a few healthy combinations you should try.
However, keep in mind that the body’s nutritional needs differ from one person to the next. Therefore, it’s imperative to conduct extensive research or consult a dietician to develop a meal plan that aligns with your needs.
- Beef, broccoli, and brown rice
- Oatmeal and sliced bananas
- For protein shakes, you can add fruits such as bananas and peanut butter
- Granola bars and greek yogurt
- Peanut butter spread on a brown bed with a glass of milk
- Whole wheat bagel with ricotta cheese spread
- Plain yogurt, berries, and granola
- Rice cakes, avocado, and Turkey
- Granola with almond milk and nuts
- Sweet potato chips and apples
- Fruit bowl with berries, bananas, and oranges
Remember to Hydrate!
While many easily remember to eat and mentally prepare for workouts, they hardly give thought to hydration. It’s important to drink lots of water before, during, and after your workout to avoid dehydration.
Water helps you regulate the body temperature and transfer nutrients from one body part to the other, among other things. Also, considering how you are bound to lose a lot of water through sweating, it’s imperative to replace it for maximum performance.
Proper nutrition goes hand in hand with a good workout routine if you are trying to improve your health. Science says you can’t outwork a bad diet or work out optimally without providing the body with the necessary nutrition.
While this article contains healthy pre and post-workout food choices, consider consulting our dietician for a more in-depth and personalized meal plan.