Figuring out what to eat in general can be a struggle. And figuring out what to eat before and after your workout is no exception. If you have goals to lose weight and gain muscle, diet is just as important as the quality of your training. Today we want to un-complicate pre and post-workout nutrition and talk about the best, real foods, that will help optimize your training. It’s time to start being a little more thoughtful with our nutrition. Here are our suggestions to eat pre and post-workout!
What to Eat Pre and Post-Workout?
Should You Eat Before a Workout?
There are a lot of claims out there that fasting (whether through fasted cardio or intermittent fasting in general) is the way to go if you’re trying to lose weight. But not eating before a workout can cause a number of issues. Working out on an empty stomach can make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated, lethargic, and not as powerful as you would with some healthy nutrients in you. When you don’t eat before a workout, you also increase your risks of injury.
We know you won’t always have the time or will power to eat before a workout. There will be times you’re scrambling to get to your favorite class after work and you forget to pack a snack to eat on the way. And if you’re an early morning workout person, you may just not want to eat before you hit the gym. And that’s totally okay. Eating before you work out (especially if you’re powerlifting) is ideal. But at the end of the day, you need to do what makes the most sense for your specific body. Just make sure you’re drinking lots of water and you should be good to go!
Speaking of Water
Remember, hydration is always key. While you should always try to stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water before the gym is a must. Again, each body is different, but a general rule to follow is to drink about 2 cups of water 2-3 hours before your workout. You should then drink another cup of water roughly 10-20 minutes before you work out. Why so much water? Dehydration can cause low energy and muscle cramps. Think of it as preparing for a test. Why not put in a bit more energy to set yourself up for a successful workout?
Pre-Workout: Bring on the Carbs and Protein
As much as diet culture would like us to think otherwise, carbs are wonderful. Carbs are an incredible source of energy. When we eat carbs, they break down into glucose, enter our muscle cells. In short, carbs give us the necessary fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity. Eating carbs before a workout ensures you have the extra energy that keeps you from feeling weak or tired – especially during that last set of burpees!
Protein is another great macronutrient to eat before a workout – especially if you’re lifting weights. When you are strength-training, lifting weights creates small tears in our muscle fibers. During times of rest, the body repairs those micro-tears and builds up your muscles bigger and stronger than they were before. Protein is necessary for this process.
So, What Should You Eat?
Here are some of our favorite pre-workout snacks
- A smoothie with one cup of fruit and two cups of vegetables (drink half before the workout and half after)
- An apple or pear with nut butter
- Greek yogurt with granola and berries
- Dried fruit with mixed nuts
- Rice cakes topped with nut butter
- Oatmeal with peanut butter and fruit
And What About After You Work Out?
You have to eat after a workout. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. When you don’t eat after a workout, you can end up feeling fatigued, dealing with low blood sugar, and inhibiting your body’s repair process. You need to replace the calories, glycogen, protein, and electrolytes your body just lost. But what else needs to happen after a workout?
Even more important than eating after your workout is rehydrating. The amount of water you need to drink after a workout depends on a number of factors including length, intensity, environment, and your specific physiology. Drink as much water as you feel is necessary and monitor the color of your urine to make sure you aren’t dehydrated. (The darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are.)
Carbs and Protein are Still Your Best Friends
You just finished depleting energy stores and creating tiny tears in your muscles. This means that your post-workout meals should be high in complex carbohydrates and protein. Complex carbohydrates are carbs that break down slowly and include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
You’ll want to pair these complex carbohydrates with healthy proteins like:
Recommended Post-Workout Snacks
- 1 slice of whole-wheat toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ sliced banana
- 1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast
- A 7-inch round whole wheat pita stuffed with grilled veggies and 2 tablespoons hummus
- A protein-rich green smoothie
- A veggie omelet with avocado and ½ cup of roasted potatoes
- 4 ounces of steamed trout with a baked sweet potato and sautéed spinach
More Pre and Post-Workout Help with Zock Family Chiropractic
As we noted before, each individual and each individual body is different. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. If you would like more insight into optimizing your body pre and post-workout, Dr. Zock would love to discuss your thoughts and concerns. She can evaluate your body mechanics and help you decide what kind of shoe can help you keep your body healthy and pain-free! So, end 2019 off on the right foot. Contact our office in Cranberry to schedule an introductory session and provide you with a happy and healthy 2019!