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Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat to Maximize Your Workouts

The food you eat plays a crucial role in your health by providing it with the energy to function properly. Although regular exercise is essential for your fitness, nutrition also has a massive impact on it.

What you eat is more important than how much you eat, regardless of your fitness goals. When exercising, the most important thing is to feel healthy and confident, and nutrition can help guarantee just that. Are you ready to make the most out of every workout session? Let’s have a look at the foods you should eat to ensure you have enough energy to exercise and that your workout efforts do not go to waste.

What to Eat Before a Workout?

Before a workout, you should eat foods high in carbs and proteins because your body can digest them more quickly and, in turn, provide you with the energy you need. On the other hand, try to avoid fats and fibers as they take much longer to digest and can cause discomfort while working out.

Carbs

For a healthy and balanced diet, carbohydrates should be your main source of energy. These nutrients are crucial for muscle building. The carbs get broken down into glycogen, then the energy from the glycogen fuels the body for short- and high-intensity exercises preserving the muscle tissue.

Protein

Protein is also an essential nutrient before exercising. It can boost the storage of glycogen, help with muscle soreness and muscle repair. These nutrients also make amino acids available for your body, so you don’t have to use the proteins already stored in your muscles. This way, foods high in proteins aid with your overall performance when working out.

Now that we established the nutrients you should consume before a workout, let us give you some pre-workout meal and snack ideas that include food rich in carbs and proteins:

  • Hard-boiled egg and avocado sandwich on whole-grain toast
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich
  • Oatmeal and dried fruits
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Chicken or salmon with rice, and veggie combo
  • Grilled chicken with boiled broccoli and sweet potato
  • Trail mix
  • Apple wedges with almond butter

When to Eat Before a Workout?

Exercising with a full stomach is not the best option; that is why it is important to time your meals. The ideal time for a pre-workout snack or meal is one to three hours before the workout. It is best to give your body enough time to digest some of the food before exercising. Because, while exercising, your body doesn’t use energy for digestion. Instead, it diverts blood so it can feed your muscles and lungs.

What to Eat After a Workout?

After a successful workout session, you probably might feel tired because of all the effort and energy you put forth. In such cases, we recommend eating foods rich in fats, carbs, and proteins. These nutrients will help you restore the lost glycogen and energy, as well as recover the muscles.

Fats

Eating fat before a workout can slow down digestion, but it does not negatively affect your recovery post-workout in any way. A study done on the subject showed that even when you ingest meals high in fat after working out, your glycogen synthesis proceeds as normal. Although, as with other nutrients, you should limit the intake of fats, they are a good energy source after working out.

Carbs

According to research, eating carbs after a workout can help your body recover more quickly and gain energy. That’s because when you exercise, you use your glycogen stores, and after the workout session, you have no source of energy left. Eating carbs might also help reduce muscle soreness and damage, helping you stay in shape for future workouts.

Protein

Many times, while working out, you also break down some of your muscle protein. That is why your body needs to consume foods high in protein after a workout. These foods can provide you with the amino acids necessary to recover the lost muscle proteins. Not only that, but they may also aid in building new muscle tissue.

When to Eat After a Workout?

According to many dietitians, it is best to eat something within the first 30 minutes after you have worked out. The reason for eating so quickly after an exercise session is so you can provide the body with the necessary nutrients to recover faster.

Some good choices for a post-workout meal and snack are:

  • Green smoothies (you can find one of our favorite recipes HERE)
  • Spinach and egg white omelet
  • Chicken salad
  • Chicken wraps
  • Salmon with rice
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Carrot sticks and hummus

And through it all, before, during, and after your workout sessions, remember to drink plenty of water.

Remember that everyone’s bodies are different. One diet does not fit us all, so pay close attention to how you feel during and after each meal and use that insight to make any adjustments needed in portions and type of food. The important thing is to feel healthy, energized, and content with your body condition both before and after every workout.

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