“What should I eat before and after a workout?” This is one of the most common questions I get as a trainer. Obviously, the answer depends more on the individual and their goals, but there are some common truths that apply for pre-and post-workout nutrition.
Before Your Workout
Pre-workout food should include a carb source to provide energy for your workout. When looking for a pre-workout snack, find something that your stomach is familiar with and that is easily digestible. Fruits and simple grains will help fuel your body with carbs without burdening your stomach with something difficult to digest during your workout.
Pre-workout Food Ideas
- Toast and jam
- Apple and pretzels
- A handful of nuts and raisins
- Banana or PBJ sandwich
- Berries and rice cakes
- Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit
After Your Workout
After a workout, prioritize getting protein into your body. This gives your muscles the ability to rebuild and repair with the available protein and amino acids. During your workout, you “broke down” muscle tissue with your intense exercise. By eating protein we help the remodeling and rebuilding process to help you get back to your workouts the next day. Try to eat within 1-2 hours of completing an intense workout. This will help the rebuild process as your muscles are primed and ready to receive nutrients to rebuild and grow.
Post-Workout Food Ideas
- Protein shake or smoothie
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Turkey slices with veggies
- Grilled chicken breast salad
- Low fat Greek yogurt
- Protein bar
Don’t Cut The Carbs
Most people have the erroneous idea that carbs are evil and will cause fat gain. Carbs are our primary energy source! It’s fuel for the engine. We can take advantage of eating carbohydrates to make sure that your workout is optimally fueled and provides you energy to move, jump, lift weights and challenge yourself.
It’s best not to eat immediately before a workout because while your muscles are working out, your stomach is trying to simultaneously digest the food in your stomach. Eating too close to a workout may cause you to experience some stomach discomfort and cramping while you train.
Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 2 hours pre-workout. If you eat a larger meal, you might need more time to digest.
Key Take Home Points
Your body needs carbs to fuel your working muscles; prioritize carbs before a workout.
Protein is there to help build and repair; prioritize protein following a workout.