When I asked for some ideas for posts on the NITK Facebook Page recently I got quite a few requests for info on what to eat pre & post workout!
How did I not think of this earlier?!
Thank you times-a-million to those who requested this!
Nutrition is SO important for really making the most out of your workouts! If you just spent 2 hours in the gym, but then forget to eat for 2 hours after… you truly won’t get the same results as you would had you fueled your body with the right nutrition as soon as you finished your workout! Same goes for not fueling your body properly before your workout, and not being able to get the most out of your workout because you are running on an empty tank!
Pre Workout Nutrition:
The key to pre-workout is FUELING!
Before you workout, you need to fuel your body, energize it, and invigorate it for the work it is about to do for you!
In terms of nutrition – this means CARBOHYDRATES … also known as your body’s number one source of energy! Also, adding a moderate amount of faster digesting protein is recommended such as low-fat dairy or a protein isolate. Stay away from too much fat pre-workout as fats take a longer time to digest.
Now, there are two categories I believe for “pre-workout”, I like to call them the “need-it-quick” and “have-some-time”. Lol, these are totally not technical terms, but let me explain.
For the need-it-quick, this means you literally need to eat something within the 30 minutes before you start your workout. Maybe you just finished an appointment at work and only have a short time slot to get that workout in, or it’s first thing in the morning and you want to eat something but don’t want to end up with harsh cramps or a heavy stomach while you are bustin-a-move! In this instance you need something fast-digesting, and those types of carbohydrates are FRUIT or other healthy, unrefined, simple sugars like dates or the sugars naturally found in dairy! These options are digested quickly to give you fast energy, and they don’t sit in your stomach taking time to digest while your trying to get your squat jumps in!
“Need-It-Quick” Pre-Workout Ideas:
Fruit – Banana, Apple, Orange, Pineapple, etc.
A Shake or Smoothie w/ Protein Isolate Powder & Fruit (I use whey, vegans can use soy, hemp, or rice protein) (check out my Seeded Watermelon Protein Smoothie)
Plain 0% Fat Yogurt & Berries (I like Greek yogurt, it has more protein!)
Low-Fat Cottage Cheese & an Apple w/ Cinnamon & stevia or pure maple syrup (yummmm!)
Pitted Dates (just a few these little guys are pretty high calorie!)
For the “have-some-time” pre workout meal, this refers to the instance when you have more than an hour before your workout, or you plan to do some major cardio such as a long run.
Here the key is still carbohydrates but the focus should be on slower-digesting carbs that will give you a more sustained energy! You have the time for this meal to digest and you will be fueled correctly for your workout! Proteins (in small amounts, about 25% of the meal) are also good to include in this pre-workout meal to prevent the breakdown of muscle for fuel.
“Have-Some-Time” Pre Workout Ideas:
Plain Oatmeal w/ Berries & a drizzle of Pure Maple Syrup or some Stevia
Whole-Grain Bread w/ some Hummus & Sliced Cucumber
Quinoa w/ a small portion of Chicken Breast
Overnight Protein Quinoa & Oats (like this one!)
Brown rice w/ a small portion of Extra Firm Tofu
Mary’s Gone Crackers w/ Fat-Free Ricotta or Hummus
Whole Grain or Brown Rice Pasta w/ Tomato Basil Sauce
Quinoa, Egg White & Veggie Scramble (similar to this delicious recipe I did a while back!)
During your workout it’s so important to HYDRATE, hydrate, HyDrAtE!
Post Workout Nutrition:
So, after you’ve busted your butt, worked up a sweat, burnt some major cals, and did your body good, it’s time to refuel and repair!
I can’t say it enough… it’s SO important to eat within one hour after your workout (15 minutes is ideal as this is your “window of opportunity” when the body is most active for re-synthesizing muscle glycogen). The longer you take to refuel, the longer it takes to recover. Not to mention there is tons of research that shows that combining proteins with carbohydrates within the fifteen minutes after exercise can almost double the insulin response in the body, resulting in more stored glycogen!! So this combo is KEY!
Small meals or snacks that combine protein which helps your muscles recover, and carbohydrates that replenish glycogen stores are your best bet for getting the most out of your workout!
Post Workout Nutrition Ideas:
Quick Protein Shake (this is great for getting that post-workout nutrition right after you workout, bring some protein powder to the gym with you and just add water!)
Raw or Dry Roasted Nuts & Unsweetened Dried Fruit
Protein Smoothie (make with protein powder, some fruit, and throw some oats in the mix!)
Banana & Almonds (another easy post-workout snack you can have ready in your gym bag or car!)
Mary’s Gone Crackers w/ Tuna and Mashed Avocado
Protein Powder & Nut Butter (combine these two ingredients like I did for my Chocolate Protein Nut Butter Cups!)
Chicken Breast in a small Whole Grain Tortilla w/ some Salsa
Lean Meat or Marinated Tofu on Salad Greens w/ some Quinoa (one of my faves!)
Hummus & Higher Glycemic Veggies (such as carrots)
Hard Boiled Eggs & Whole Grain Toast
Dried Apple Rings & Cashews/Almonds/Walnuts
So there you have it! The basics of pre & post workout nutrition and some ideas to get you started!
Remember, you can’t out-train a poor diet, and your diet should work FOR you not against you! Don’t waste the hard work you put into your workouts and go grab some junky fast-food right after, but focus on the right pre & post nutrition and see your goals come to pass!
Happy Monday and I hope you all have a wonderful week!
I’m off to the gym this morning, fueled and ready to go, with my post-workout meal in tow! 🙂
Nutritionist in the Kitch