If you’re one of the many people who is working out not only to promote a healthy lifestyle, but also to lose weight, then what you eat before and after a workout might not be your biggest concern. But did you know that what you eat immediately before and after a workout can greatly affect the quality of the workout itself? Including how you feel, how quickly you recover and how much you put into the workout.
Below are some tips for getting the nutrients your body needs when exercising. Remember that these are a loose guideline and that, seeing as no workout or body are completely the same, you may have to experiment with food combinations and quantities before you find what makes you feel best during your workout.
It can also be very helpful to speak with your doctor in deciding what is best for you!
Pre-Exercise Eating Tips
What you put into your body before a workout will fuel it throughout. For this reason avoid snacking on just whatever you can find. Your nutrition goals before beginning a workout should be to:
- Get an adequate amount of protein in to decrease post-workout soreness.
- Consume carbohydrates that can normalize your blood sugar and help with muscle stores.
- Make sure that you are hydrated.
Again, a lot of how you fulfill these nutritional needs will depend on you. Are you someone who gets a little jittery or nervous before an intense workout or competition? If so you’re generally going to want to consume less and lighter things, maybe some sort of liquid meal, so as not to upset an already sensitive stomach. You should always avoid eating immediately before a workout. Instead, depending on the heaviness of your meal or snack, try eating anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours before.
Some other things you should keep in mind when fueling for a workout are:
- Don’t become discouraged if one combination of foods or a certain time doesn’t work for you. Instead try again the next workout with a different routine.
- Speak to your doctor. Provide them with detail about your workout routine, your weight/height, athletic history, diet and goals for your workouts. This way they’re able to give you personalized advice that suits your situation.
- Know that if you eat poorly or slack on hydrating yourself throughout the day and then have a healthy snack thirty minutes before a workout, you won’t feel the results you want. What you provide yourself through the day leading up to a workout matters.
Post-exercise Eating Tips
After a workout you’ll have depleted some of your body’s necessary nutrients and resources and should aim to restore them. It’ll help in how you feel, how you “recover” and how your next workout feels. Your goals after a workout should be to:
- Rehydrate and restore helpful electrolytes that you sweated out in a workout.
- Replace carbohydrates that act as muscle fuel.
- Offer body proteins to restore any damage done to muscles during exercise.
You should generally refuel anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours after a workout. If you plan on working out again later that same day this recovery snack or meal becomes all the more crucial. It’s common to not be particularly hungry after a strenuous workout. If this is the case for you try a smoothie or other liquid alternative! Although you may have no appetite your body is still yearning for those nutrients.
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Matthew Boes MD Orthopaedic Surgery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Zane enjoys drinking chocolate milk after his workouts.