Great question! Knowing what to eat and when can get confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. While there are general recommendations, it’s important to find what works best for you and your body. Let’s dive into this topic a little further below.
Finding the right formula to sustain energy and improve strength involves the combination of several key nutrients. These nutrients are what I call “the perfect trifecta” and should be a goal at any meal, not just before your workout.
· Protein – this macronutrient improves muscle performance and strength, as well as recovery. Protein also helps satisfy hunger levels and sustain energy.
· Carbohydrates – this macronutrient contains glucose, a simple sugar, to fuel muscles in shorter, high-intensity workouts. Carbohydrates are also your body’s main energy source.
· Healthy fats – this third macronutrient is your body’s source of fuel for longer or moderate-to-low-intensity workouts. Healthy fats also help satisfy taste buds and cravings.
It is recommended to either eat a balanced meal three to four hours or a snack one to two hours before a workout. The closer to your workout time that you eat, the smaller and simpler the snack should be for easier digestion.
A few easy pre-workout options include: a rice cake with mashed avocado (snack), a cup of oatmeal with nut butter and ½ cup of fruit (meal) or 10 almonds with a few dried tart cherries mixed in (snack).
Okay, so your workout is done. What do you do now? You’ve probably heard your trainer or group fitness instructor say this, but it’s best to eat something at least 30 minutes after your sweat session. This will help begin the recovery process and minimize low blood sugar levels which can cause fatigue.
The same balance of nutrients mentioned above is important here as well, but protein is going to be your main star.
A few easy post-workout options include: a veggie egg scramble with avocado and a piece of whole wheat toast (meal), a healthy smoothie (meal or snack depending on size) or a few hardboiled eggs (snack) to hold you over before your next meal coming up.
What you do in the gym matters, but what you put on your plate can matter more. I hope these tips help you in navigating your pre- and post-workout fuel!
Carly Paige, health coach and cooking instructor, believes that healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Her mission is to show you simple swaps in and out of the kitchen to elevate your everyday that will transform your health. Carly is the author of Simply Swapped Everyday, a healthy guide and cookbook with over 75 plant-powered recipes and founder of FitLiving Eats – a place where she shares nutritious recipes and how-to guides.
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