What to Eat Before and After a Workout!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Photo By Andrea Rowe
What we fuel our bodies with is one of the most important aspects of improving fitness and health.  If you eat junk, you feel like junk! If you eat clean, whole foods you'll feel energetic and light! So I'm assuming if you are reading this you are eating clean and working out--now you're trying to maximize your results by learning what you should eat before and after working out.

Proper nutrition before and after working out will take your results to the next level.  We've all had that experience where we didn't eat enough before a workout and just didn't have the energy to give our best.  Or maybe the opposite-ate way too much and felt lethargic and slow.  Well I'm going to break down what to eat pre and post workout for optimum performance and recovery!

Pre Workout
The timing of your pre-workout meal may require you to experiment a bit.  Everyone's body is different and will digest at slightly different rates. A general rule of thumb would be to eat at least 30 minutes before your workout but no more than 3 hours prior. It honestly depends on the type of workout, the intensity and the duration.  It also depends on how quick your metabolism is-so experiment a bit! Eating one hour prior to working out is probably an ideal time for most people.

There is no "magic meal" but here are a few guidelines that can help you decide what to eat. Once you know the basics the options are only limited by your imagination!
*Avoid fat
*Focus on protein and carbs
*Low fiber to keep it easily digestible
*Eat foods that you are familiar with and tolerate well
*Drink fluids!

Focus on protein and carbs for your pre-workout meal. You should avoid fat as this does not serve as a main source of fuel for working out.  Carbohydrates come in many different forms including vegetables, starchy carbs(like bread) and fruit.  All are good options-and if combine can offer a great boost in energy.

My go to pre-workout meal is egg whites(protein) with spinach and 1 piece of Ezekiel bread(carbs) or Rolled Oats(carb). If I'm going for a long workout or a heavy lifting day(like leg day) I'll add some ground turkey for extra calories. OR If I'm doing a more speed/agility/plyometric based workout I'll drink Shakeology which is a superfood drink with both protein and carbs.  Before a long run or ride(anything longer than 1 hour) I will add in some fruit and an extra serving of carbs to make sure I have plenty of fuel in the tank!

Pre Workout Meal Ideas: 
*Greek Yogurt with Granola
*Rolled Oats with Blueberries 
*Ezekiel Bread with Banana and Honey-Great before a longer endurance workout 
*Egg Whites with Veggies and Whole Grain Bread 
*Protein Shake or Shakeology with Fruit 
*Cottage Cheese with Fruit 
*Brown Rice Cakes with Cottage Cheese 
Egg Whites, Spinach and Bell Peppers with Turkey and Whole Grain Bread

Post Workout-
What you eat after you workout will greatly affect how quickly your body recovers.  After a workout your body is ready to refuel and soak up the nutrients you provide.  Focus again on carbs and protein for optimum recovery and avoid fat.

When you workout glycogen stores are depleted--glycogen is what gives you energy during your workout. Carbohydrates are turned into glycogen, so this is the perfect time to fill the tank back up! Consuming carbohydrates post workout will help your body recover most efficiently.

Your body is also ready to absorb amino acids, the building blocks of muscle--so consuming protein(which is composed of amino acids) post workout will help your muscles repair and grow. Tight and toned baby! Easily digestible proteins are recommended so protein shakes are a great option.

The first 30-60 minutes after a workout is the best time to consume your post workout meal.  For the quickest and easiest method I drink a protein shake made of high quality whey protein and a half a banana(considered a carb in this context). These foods are easily digested and perfect for helping your body recover so you can kick butt on your next workout. About an hour or so after a workout I'm usually starving and that's when I'll eat a meal with complex carbs(like brown rice or sweet potato), protein and veggies and some healthy fat.

Post Workout Meal Ideas: 
Tuna Sandwich on Ezekiel bread 
Chicken with Veggies 
Protein Shake
Greek yogurt with Granola 
Green Smoothie(Kale, Spinach, Mango, Coconut Water) 

Tuna on Greens! 
I hope this gives you some ideas on what to eat and when! Make sure to drink plenty of water and get in your good fats in your other meals.

Happy Sweating!

Love, Light & Health,

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