What to Eat Before & After Your Workout

“You wouldn’t expect your car to run on an empty tank, right? Same thing with your body. If you want to perform well, you have to fuel well,” says Mansur Mendizabal, a D.C.-based fitness trainer. This means giving your body the carbohydrates and protein it needs both before and after your training sessions. Many people beileve that the key to losing weight is to work out hard and wait until mealtime to eat. However, you must know that the key to getting and maintaining a knockout body is a combination of regular exercise AND eating the right foods at the right times. Feeding your body before and after every workout is essential for burning the most calories, staying energized, building lean muscle, losing weight, speeding up recovery, and achieving your goals. You can be training and working out like a mad man, but if you aren’t fueling your body, you simply won’t see the results that you want.

Pre-Workout:

  • Why does it matter?—Whether you eat or don’t eat before exercise, research shows the body burns the same amount of fat. Ever heard of cardio fasting? Well you can actually cause muscle loss if you regularly work out on an empty stomach (fasting). Want to know why? Well when you’re hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein from muscle instead of from your kidneys and liver, where the body normally looks for protein. When this happens, you lose muscle mass, which can ultimately slow your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight. Plus, if you exercise on an empty stomach, you’re not giving yourself the fuel you need to power through an intense training session. It’s a lose-lose situation, so fuel your body right!!
  • If you have less than an hour before your workout, you will have to eat something that is easily digestible and high in carbohydrates (for example a banana). And, of course, make sure you hydrate. But to some, eating a meal early in the morning is unusual and can lead to an upset stomach For them, it may be more ideal to split breakfast in two:  think peanut butter on a slice of ezekiel bread–> eating half of it before working out and half after. Aim to time your eating to at least 30-40 minutes before the workout and then again 30-40 minutes after the workout.
  • If you have more time, full meals — which balance carbohydrates, protein and fat — are the best preparation for any physical activity (be it cardio ,strength training, or both). So if the clock allows it, aim to eat a full meal two hours or more before working out.
  • What to eat: Choose pre-workout meals or snacks that are easy to digest and won’t cause bloating or irritate your stomach. The best pre-activity foods are those relatively low in fat & fiber and that contain some form of complex carbohydrate & a protein.
    • apple with 2 tbsp almond butter
    • oatmeal with berries
    • KIND bar
    • greek yogurt with berries & granola
    • smoothie
    • 1 slice ezekiel bread with 2 tbsp peanut butter & 1/2 sliced bananaPost-Workout
  • Why does it matter?— After a workout, the muscles are repairing themselves, and it’s very important to help that process along by supplying the body with both carbohydrates and proteins. Ideally, you want to eat/drink a well-balanced meal within 30 to 60 minutes after working out to refill energy stores, build and repair your muscles that were broken down, and help keep your metabolism burning strong. The sooner you start refueling, the better off you’ll be. Research shows that your body’s ablity to refill muscle stores decreases by 50% if you wait to eat just two hours after your workout compared to eating right away.
  • What to eat: According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, consuming protein and a little carbohydrate is best immediately after exercise to help speed up recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and help maintain lean muscle to aid in weight loss.
    • protein shake made with 1/2 banana & 1 scoop protein powder
    • 1 slice ezekiel bread with 2 tbsp raw peanut butter
    • greek yogurt & almonds
    • grilled chicken & mixed veggies
    • eggs/ egg whites
    • veggie omelette
    • chocolate milk
    • Quest bars
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