“What should I eat before I work out?” is one of the most popular questions we receive. It’s an important question, but what you eat after your workout and the timing of eating in relation to your workouts are just as important.
Your pre- and post-workout nutrition is essential to maximizing your fitness performance. No matter how intense your workout is, you need to eat properly to get the most out of your workout. This means you need to do some planning so that you time your meals and choose the right foods appropriately. If you don’t plan appropriately and eat too much, you can hamper your performance or have indigestion, sluggishness, nausea, cramps and vomiting. If you eat less, you may feel weak and unmotivated.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Eating a small snack before you exercise will help fuel you for an intense workout. However, avoid sugar. Instead, your snack should be high in carbohydrates and low in fat and easy to digest so that your stomach isn’t unsettled. Try a small banana, half a Power Bar, a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter or a bowl of oatmeal.
- Eat 1 to 2 hours before your workout. Any sooner, and you may develop an unsettled stomach or cramps.
- Don’t forget about your liquids. You need to hydrate your body by drinking water. If you work out for longer than an hour at a time, we recommend drinking a sports drink with electrolytes (such as Gatorade). You’ll need the energy to keep you going.
- Don’t wait too long to eat after you work out. Refuel with the right kinds of foods -- such as protein -- to make sure you recover quickly, build muscle tissue and enable your muscles to work better the next time you exercise. Try a whole wheat bagel or toast, poached eggs, grilled chicken, Greek yogurt, steamed veggies, salad with fish or chicken, whole wheat pasta or fruit.
- Consumption of protein is critical for a post-exercise meal. It helps rebuild tissues damaged during your workout, builds muscle and helps improve recovery.
- Drinking a whey protein shake right after a workout is the best time to get protein into your body. Protein shakes only take about 30 minutes to reach the muscle after ingestion.
Remember that all individuals are different and you need to experiment with what works for you and what is best during your workouts. Some days you will feel great; other days, you may feel lethargic and tired. It varies from person to person and from day to day. Write down what you eat and keep track of it in a food log -- this will help you find out what works for you.
Questions, comments? Leave your comment below or contact Ruben and Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available at warriorfitnessbootcamp.com. You can also follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.
Ruben Belliard and Alex Fell are the owners of Warrior Fitness Boot Camp. Former roommates in the Marine Corps, Ruben and Alex have joined together to bring their military experience to the public with their Warrior Fitness Boot Camp gym located in midtown New York City.