One of the most common questions I get asked is… what should I eat before and after I exercise?
To get the most out of your workout, it’s critical to give your body the right nutrients both before and after exercise . Here are the basics for Pre and Post-Workout Fuel:
- Pre-workout: Carbohydrates for fuel. Ideally, you should fuel your body 1-3 hours before exercise with carbohydrate, which is the energy source for your muscles. Some good carbohydrate choices include: a piece of fruit such as a banana or apple, berries, dried fruit, oatmeal, whole grain dry cereal or crackers, pasta or rice, or a slice of toast. If strength training, I would also suggest including a small amount of protein to help prime muscles for repair after your workout. Some good protein choices are an egg, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts/nut butters, and lean meat. It’s recommended to avoid high fat foods, and not to eat immediately before exercise (especially a full meal) as either can cause GI discomfort, and interfere with energy supply to the working muscles. Also, consider sticking with familiar foods that you know you tolerate, especially on the day of a big event or race.
**Here are some pre-workout ideas:
1. Oatmeal or whole grain dry cereal with low fat milk
2. Smoothie made with fruit and low fat milk or yogurt
3. Slice of toast with an egg
4. Apple or banana with 1 Tbsp. of peanut or almond butter
- Post-workout: Carbohydrate and Protein. As soon as possible (or at least within 30 minutes) after a workout, consume carbohydrates and protein. This gives your muscles an opportunity to restore glycogen (from carbs) that has been lost during exercise, and repair and rebuild muscles (from protein). A 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is recommended.
**Here are some ideas:
1. Low fat chocolate milk
2. Yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit
3. Turkey or tuna sandwich with veggies
4. Hard boiled egg with a few whole grain crackers
5. Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts
- Hydration Matters: When adequately hydrated, your heart can more efficiently pump blood, and deliver oxygen and other nutrients to your working muscles. This will give you more energy (making the workout seem easier compared to when not hydrated). While fluid needs vary from person to person, a good rule of thumb is to consume 2 cups (16 oz) of water 2 hours before exercise, and 1 cup (8oz) within 15 minutes prior to exercise. During exercise, drink about 1 cup every 15-20 minutes. You may want to consider weighing yourself before and after exercise… and for every pound lost (through sweat) , replace it with 16 oz of fluid.
***Take Action: Do you need to adjust your pre or post workout meal/snack? How about fluid intake? How is your body responding? How’s your energy level when you exercise? How does your stomach feel? Please share what’s working for you (before and after exercise) to fuel your body!