A dietitian's advice on what to eat before and after a workout
It's difficult to figure out what to eat before and after a workout, but it's well worth it. When it comes to a pre-workout snack, what you put in your mouth is crucial. If you're going to put your body through its paces, you'll want to make sure it's properly fueled first. I'm not referring to pre-workout pills here. I'm referring to real, tasty meals and snacks. These are the kinds of things you'd eat anyway—and will eat even more if you know they'll help you attain your fitness objectives.
Of course, what you eat after a workout is crucial as well. Indeed, refueling after exercise provides your body with the nutrients it requires to recover from the exertion and aids in the development of larger, stronger muscles.
That implies that paying attention to what you eat before and after you exercise will help you get the most out of all your hard work at the gym. So, what's the ideal food to have before a workout? What should you eat after a workout? I endorse the meals and snacks listed below as a certified dietitian. Consider them an important aspect of your overall training strategy.
Before a workout, eat these foods:
I advise my patients to eat before working out because I believe it will help them get the most out of their activities. You may feel dizzy, lightheaded, queasy, or lethargic if you don't eat enough before an exercise. It can also increase your chances of getting hurt. Even if none of these things occur, skipping meals can have a detrimental impact on your performance and cause you to lose ground.
However, I understand that you may not always have the time (or inclination) to eat before a workout. On nights when you're rushing from the office to your favorite studio for that 6:00 p.m. class, it may seem difficult to stop for a bite to eat. What if you don't like to eat breakfast yet like to work out in the morning? Despite all the hoopla about breakfast being the most essential meal of the day, it's perfectly fine to skip it.
The truth is that most people can exercise on an empty stomach (though I would not recommend doing so if you have blood sugar issues). So it's fine if you can't even reach for a protein bar or the thought of pushing down a bite makes you gag. However, you should preferably fuel up before working up a sweat—and drink plenty of water before, during, and after. Here's how to eat before a workout and what to consume.
1. Make sure you have your pre-workout snack at the proper time.
30 minutes to three hours before your workout is the best time to eat. That way, you're not still digesting when you get to the gym, but you haven't expended all of those beneficial calories yet. However, it is possible to alter this. You may need to experiment to determine which time range is best for your body. You won't be able to eat a full meal before going to the gym if you work out first thing in the morning. It should be enough to eat a modest snack or a mini-breakfast.
I like to start drinking half of this protein-rich green smoothie 30 minutes to an hour before I go to the gym and finish the other half once I'm finished. I recommend having a snack 30 minutes to an hour before your workout or working out two to three hours after a well-balanced meal if you are exercising later in the day.
2. Make sure you're getting lots of water.
Before you even consider going to the gym, make sure your body is well hydrated. Checking the color of your urine first thing in the morning is one technique to measure your overall hydration level. Lemonade-colored pee suggests enough hydration, whereas dark-colored urine (think apple juice) indicates a deficiency in H20, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for assessing fluid demands during exercise, drinking two cups of water two to three hours before exercising and one cup of water 10 to 20 minutes before working out is a decent place to start. The goal is to avoid dehydration, which can cause low energy and muscle cramps or spasms, while also avoiding drinking too much water, which is difficult but harmful.
During your workout, you should also strive to stay hydrated. For every 15 to 30 minutes of strenuous physical activity, drink one cup of water, especially if you're sweating significantly or exercising in a hot setting. Again, some trial and error may be required before you discover what works best for your body.
3. Have a carbohydrate-rich pre-workout snack.
Carbohydrates equal energy. When we eat them, they break down into glucose, which enters our muscle cells and provides us with the energy we need to exercise to our full potential. When you put your muscles to work, they store glucose in the form of glycogen and draw on these reserves. When it comes to what to eat before a workout, carbs ensure that you'll have extra glucose on hand in case you need it to refill your glycogen levels. If you're low on glucose throughout your workout, you'll probably feel weak and weary, and you'll be tempted to stop and nap.
A granola bar, a piece of fruit, oatmeal, crackers, a rice cake, or a slice of toast are some carbs I recommend consuming before a workout for rapid energy.
4. Check to see if your pre-workout snack has protein.
It's a good idea to have some protein before your workout, in addition to carbs, especially if you're performing weight training. We produce microscopic breaks in our muscle fibers when we undertake strength-training exercises like lifting weights. Your body heals those micro-tears while you're sleeping, making your muscles bigger and stronger than they were before—and it needs protein to do it.
Nuts, Greek yogurt, a slice of turkey, a hard-boiled egg, or a glass of conventional or soy milk are all easy-to-digest protein options. Also, don't overeat to avoid getting an upset stomach midway through your workout.
1. propose the following pre-workout snacks:
Snack: A smoothie made with one cup of fruit and two cups of veggies, or a protein-rich green smoothie like this one (drink half before the workout and half after)
Snack: a pear or an apple with nut butter
Snack: Greek yogurt with berries and granola
Snack: Dried fruit with a combination of nuts
A granola bar as a snack
Snack: Rice cakes with nut butter on top
Snack: Oatmeal and fruit with peanut butter
Snack: roasted vegetables, brown rice, and baked salmon
After an exercise, eat these foods:
After an exercise, you must eat. Period. It's all about restoring the calories you used during your workout when you eat afterward. For starters, it's critical to replenish glycogen stores that have been drained during your workout. Second, eating protein after a workout, especially after weight training, is critical for quick muscle repair. Furthermore, food contains electrolytes (minerals that help your neurons fire properly), which are lost when you sweat.
When you don't eat after a workout, you risk being exhausted and suffering from low blood sugar. You're also interfering with your body's ability to heal. It will be more difficult to achieve your fitness goals if you regularly miss meals after an exercise. After a workout, here's what I recommend.
1. Rehydrate as soon as possible.
It's more crucial to replace the fluids you lose while sweating as soon as possible than it is to eat immediately away. Just because you've finished shvitzing doesn't mean you should quit drinking. The length and intensity of the exercise, the ambient circumstances, and your particular physiology all play a role in getting enough water after exercise.
You'll need to get out that smartphone calculator if you want to be all scientific about calculating your hydration needs after a workout (trust me, I enjoy going there). Begin by weighing yourself before and after each workout and keeping track of both numbers. Drink 16 ounces of fluid for every pound you've dropped after your workout. Do what your body tells you to do. Also, as previously said, use your pee to determine your overall hydration condition.
2. Eat something as quickly as possible.
Your body has just used up the energy it requires to function at maximum capacity, especially if you recently worked out particularly hard. If you can't eat a full meal right after your workout, have a snack and then a full meal a few hours later.
3 .Eat carbs and protein to refuel.
Remember, you've depleted your glycogen stores and torn up your muscles. As a result, your post-workout meal should be heavy in slow-digesting complex carbohydrates and high in nutritious protein.
The following are examples of complex carbohydrates:
Bread made from whole wheat
Proteins that are good for you include:
4. Athletes, your protein requirements may be higher.
Athletes who conduct heavy weight training for long periods of time (45 to 90 minutes) may require a little extra protein when it comes to what to eat after a workout (especially if your goal is to build muscle). Using the calculation below, you can tailor your protein requirements. (Try some trial and error to observe how you feel after adjusting your protein consumption, bearing in mind any signals that you might need more protein in your diet.) Always consult a certified dietician if you're unsure.)
How to figure out how much protein you need:
1. To convert kilos, multiply your weight by 2.2.
2. Multiply that figure by 0.4 and 0.5 to get a range of protein intakes that are advised.
So, taking a 130-pound person as an example, let's do the math.
Take 130 and divide by 2.2 to get 59 kg.
To get a protein range, multiply 59 by 0.4 and 0.5. It's between 24 and 30 grams in this scenario.