Written by Sonya Luisi, M.S. Dietetics and Nutrition
What you eat before a workout is imperative for fueling your workout and maximizing your performance.
What you eat after a workout is crucial for optimizing the recovery process and gives your body the energy it needs to recover quickly and work more efficiently.
Ensuring that you have the proper PRE- and POST- workout nutrition will certainly play a positive role in your overall results.
What should you eat BEFORE a workout?
The last meal you eat before your workout is meant to give your body all the energy it needs to ensure optimum performance. Your pre- workout meal functions to:
- Decrease muscle glycogen depletion
- Decrease muscle protein breakdown
- Decrease post workout cortisol levels
According to the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionist group, your pre-workout meals should be a combination of low-fiber carbohydrates without added sugars and protein. Aim to make your meal or snack with well-tolerated foods, which means avoiding fast foods, pasta buffets, high fiber products and spicy foods. Aim to eat these about 45 minutes to one hour before your workout though food intake timing may differ for each individual depending on your body’s ability to tolerate specific foods before activity.
Stay hydrated with water and avoid carbonated beverages before physical activity. Sports Dietitians suggest aiming for 16 ounces of water two hours before your workout.
For a quick carb fuel-up to your next workout, chose an apple and with all-natural peanut butter. For a PRE- workout meal option, mix salad greens with assorted veggies and a hardboiled egg, with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, or your favorite low-fat dressing.
What should you eat AFTER a workout?
Immediately after a workout the body needs to repair, replenish, recover and adapt. Your post- workout meal is a first defense for maintaining and building lean body mass, which increases our metabolism and helps us burn more calories throughout the day. In addition, a post workout meal will:
- Decrease muscle soreness and fatigue
- Decrease muscle protein breakdown caused by exercise
- Decrease cortisol levels
- Replenish depleted glycogen levels from exercise
- Increase overall muscle protein synthesis
A post- workout meal should be a combination of protein and carbohydrates. Aim to consume these within twenty minutes post- workout when our body is primed and ready to accept protein and carbohydrates so it can immediately begin processing the nutrients to accomplish all the above functions.
Put one medium banana, one cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk and ice in a blender for a quick post-workout snack. For a post workout meal, have “breakfast for dinner”: scramble one whole egg and two egg whites with a handful of chopped spinach, bell peppers and ½ sweet potato, diced and add one ounce of low-fat cheese or avocado.
How do you incorporate PRE and POST workout meals into a weight loss plan?
Menu planning will be the most important tool to incorporate into your daily activity to ensure your pre and post workout meals are not “extra” calories but are part of your total daily energy needs. For example, if your estimated energy needs are 1500 to 1700 calories per day, then the calories from the meals and snacks before and after your workout need to be part of those 1500 to 1700 calories – not in addition to them!
http://scandpg.blogspot.de/2012/03/eating-for-exercise.html Accessed July 19, 2014.
http://www.acaloriecounter.com/diet/pre-and-post-workout-meal/ Accessed July 20, 2014.