“What should I be eating before or after my workouts?!?!” …One of the most common questions I get as a trainer. Whether you do a boot camp, personal training, or some other workout that you love, this is important so pay attention.
What we consume all day long matters for overall performance, goals and recovery – BUT what we consume right before and after has a big effect on the workout as well. You could be sabotaging your workout before it even starts. Ever have that light headed dizzy feeling during a workout? Or the “Oh no, that lunch may come back up” thought?? You’re definitely not alone, and the good news is that these things can be fixed with making smart nutrition choices before you come into class or grab those weights.
The optimum time to take in a pre-workout meal is varied depending on the source you get the information from. The most widely accepted time frame is to consume a meal/snack approximately 30 min-2 hours before your scheduled workout to allow your body adequate time to absorb and digest all of the nutrients in the food without the possible intestinal disruption that high intensity exercise can sometimes cause. It is important to note that finding the optimal time is completely individualized to YOU the exerciser. Someone can grab a slice of toast with peanut butter on the way out the door for their run, while others would become nauseous eating that close to a workout. Always pay attention to how your body feels during the workout to find a good window of time to eat for your body. You should feel energized for workout performance and never sluggish. And that dizzy, nauseous feeling I talked about earlier?? That is usually due to a large decrease in blood sugar as a result of not eating beforehand. Our bodies experience a drop in blood sugar as a result of exercise anyway, so going too long without food/fuel will result in an unhealthy drop, leaving us feeling rough! Then exercise or a “mean” trainer is usually the one that takes the blame for this feeling, when a lack of food is truly the culprit. The more trained you are, the better your body responds to exercise. SO, whether it’s 2 hours or 1 hour, especially for beginners, fuel up pre-workout!
Got your food to fuel up? Take a bite and sign up for a FREE WEEK of Boot Camp classes HERE to check out Edge Body Boot Camp Omaha.
A balanced and adequate pre-workout meal should consist of carbohydrates (preferably slow digesting carbs or something easily digestible and light) in order to provide your body with the energy it needs to endure your workouts. You wants to couple these carbs with a healthy lean protein source. Some quick suggestions are eating tasty and digestive friendly pre-workout meals such as whole wheat toast topped with almond butter & a banana; Greek yogurt with trail mix; or a light fruit and protein smoothie. If you workout in the mornings, but you’re laughing at the thought of getting up an additional hour before 5am, listen up. Grab something quick and light on the way to the gym like an apple. This will at least provide some fuel for the workout, and then consume a normal breakfast meal within 30 minutes post-workout. Always avoid eating greasy junk food or large amounts of heavy foods during your pre-workout meal. These foods take longer to process through your digestive system and may weigh you down or cause some unwanted intestinal distress at the worst possible time during your workout….such as during wall balls in a boot camp workout. Yikes!
Now you have reached my favorite (and likely yours too) part of the day… post-workout!!!
This is the time when your body really needs to be properly fed and recharged so that you can recover quickly and take on tomorrow’s workout with the same amount of energy! It is generally recommended that your post-workout meal consist of a combination of fluids (to rehydrate the body), carbohydrates (to replenish what you burned in your workout to make sure your muscles have enough fuel for the next day), and protein (to aid in muscle repair and recovery). The 20 to 60 minutes following the conclusion of your workout is a critical time to begin consuming your post-workout meal. It’s during this time frame that your body is best able to store the proteins and carbs that you consume to replenish any diminished stores and aid in a speedy recovery. I love suggesting the 30 minute rule. Within 30 minutes after sweating, be ready to fuel up! Examples can be combinations such as grilled chicken and vegetables or baked fish and a sweet potato, as these foods provide your body with the protein it needs to repair muscles and carbs for refueling. You can also grab a protein shake and other healthy carb source for a quick solution if you’re on the go. Trust me; tomorrow your muscles will thank you for this.
While these pre- and post-workout meal tips are meant to help steer you in the right direction with the types of items that will do your body good, the biggest take home message from this blog post is that WHAT you put into your body during your meals and WHEN you consume them plays a significant role in what you are able to get out of your workouts. Like any well-oiled machine, you have to take care of it and treat it right in order for it to work and perform properly…your body is no exception.
And that’s this edition of Tips from the Trainer…