Food is the energy you need to fuel your workout. Eating properly before and after your training session is the key to seeing maximum results. If you’re not sure what you should be eating, you’ll find everything you need to know about proper workout nutrition. Trust us: it can make a world of difference if you eat right!
Why Eat to Fuel Your Workout?
Simple: if you eat before working out, you’ll have the energy you need to get through the intense training session. Eating after your workout gives your body the nutrients required for recovery, those needed to make critical repairs to your muscles, tissues, and organs. There is no simple approach that works for everyone, but there are a few guidelines you can follow.
While you should try to reduce your daily carb intake, the best time to eat carbs is 30 to 90 minutes before you start working out. Simple carbs (with very little fiber) are best, as they are easiest for your body to absorb and utilize. If you have a small snack of 100 to 300 calories, heavy on carbs, before your workout, you’ll find you’ve got plenty of energy to make it through an hour or more of intense workout.
Pre-Workout Proteins and Fats
While a little bit of protein can help to boost amino acid availability in your muscles, the truth is that you don’t really need much protein to fuel your workout. Your muscles already contain the amino acids you need, so you’re typically good with just protein. And definitely steer clear of fats pre-workout. Fats slow down your digestion rate, which means they’ll slow down energy production. There’s also a real risk of cramping mid-workout. Stick with simple carbs in small quantities, just enough to boost your energy levels.
You’ve consumed a lot of energy during your workout, so it’s important that you replenish what you burned. Typically, a bit of carbs (simple and complex) can go a long way. Simple carbs provide an immediate boost of energy, and complex carbs will give you longer-lasting energy to help you recover over a few hours. However, you’re usually good with just 100 to 200 calories worth of carbs at most—you’ll get the real energy elsewhere!
This is the most critical nutrient of all! Your body needs that protein to repair your muscle tissues and to restore your energy levels, so you should always have a hefty dose of protein after every workout. At least 15 grams or more, as that will ensure you get the amino acids your muscles can’t function without. The protein will also provide a lot of the energy needed to replenish depleted energy stores. If you don’t want to go the route of protein powder, have a high-protein meal with eggs, fish, legumes and whole grains, beef, or chicken.
A bit of fat can go a long way! Fats are high in calories, which means they can provide a healthy dose of energy, one that takes your body hours to absorb. You can easily fit in 100-200 calories worth of fat (aside from the fat in your protein) and you’ll replenish your energy stores over the next few hours. The fact that your body is metabolizing energy at top speeds means you’ll burn through the carbs and proteins quickly, but your body will have enough fat to keep working on for hours to come. It’ll be much easier for you to stay energized thanks to the fats you eat.