- help prevent hypoglycemia
- help settle your stomach and abate hunger
- fuel and build your muscles
- recover faster and minimize chronic fatigue
Two to four hours before your workout, consume 600-800 carb-rich calories, low in fat, protein and fiber to prevent stomach issues. Pair this with at least 16 ounces of fluid. If you have a hard time eating solid food before a workout, try a liquid meal. (Here is a great pre-workout smoothie recipe.)
Half an hour to 60 minutes before your workout, eat another 200-300 calorie snack if you need it, made up of mostly carbohydrates (high glycemic for cardio workouts but make sure to incorporate some protein if you are going to engage in strength training activities).
Try to not eat anything 30 minutes before your workout, but make sure to get at least 1-3 cups of fluid.
While it may seem complicated and overly involved, planning meals for pre- and post-workout to maximize energy and toning goals doesn’t need to be a headache. Effective workouts demand effective nutrition. Adequate fluid and calorie intake pre-, post- and during intense exercise prevents fatigue. Balancing your intake of complex and simple carbohydrates helps you to avoid large spikes in insulin, which can lead to sugar cravings later on. Varying protein sources and making sure to get adequate calories prevents protein from being metabolized for energy later on. And when you consume fat, make sure to incorporate carbohydrate intake, since fat burns in a carbohydrate fire!
Here are some examples of pre- and post-workout nutrition options to get you started:
- Oatmeal with nuts and honey
- Yogurt with dried fruit and muesli
- A piece of toast and nut butter
- An orange, banana, or handful of dried mango
Post Workout Nutrition:
- Half an avocado with cottage cheese and tomato
- 8 ounces of low-fat chocolate milk
- Spinach salad with 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast
Focus on carbohydrate-rich foods to replenish glycogen stores. 200-400 calories of high glycemic index carbs paired with protein in a 2:1 ratio aid in muscle building and repair. And don’t forget to replenish fluids lost during exercise and to include fluid or food that contains electrolytes such as sodium and potassium!
A note on fueling DURING exercise:
Although it is not necessary for the average workout, a significant improvement in stamina has been demonstrated with the consumption of 100-250 carbohydrate calories in endurance exercise activities.
If you have any specific questions about nutrition and how it relates to performance, or if you have found something that works well for you before and after your own workouts, please let me hear from you in the Comments section below. I would love to answer some of your specific questions in the next post!