One of the most common nutrition-related questions our clients ask us in sessions, is “what should I eat before and after my workout?”
Here is a little bit of guidance…
This depends on a few things. Firstly, the time of your workout and secondly, the type of training. So, let’s say you are working out in the evening, around 1-2 hours after finishing your main meal. You are unlikely to need to consume a “pre-workout snack” here as your body will use the energy from your last balanced, main meal. If you are working out on your way home from work however, and you haven’t eaten anything since lunchtime, you would certainly benefit from a pre-workout snack! You don’t always need a pre-workout snack unless it has been more than 2 hours since you last ate or you are to be undergoing a long, sustained endurance session such as marathon training.
Pre-workout, we benefit from a good balance of carbohydrates (for energy) and a small amount of protein to help build and repair muscle. The protein combined with the carbs also helps to regulate the release of glucose into the blood for sustained energy. You don’t need to consume a lot of food here! A guideline for carbs intake would be around half a bagel or 1 banana and for protein, a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter or small cup of yoghurt will be more than enough.
Example combinations could include:
Banana with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1-2 tablespoons of cottage cheese with wholegrain crackers
Open sandwich – ½ bagel with chicken or turkey
Oatmeal smoothie, protein powder & blueberries
Small cup of yoghurt, berries & a small handful of nuts
Don’t forget another essential macronutrient needed for optimal performance…water! To avoid dehydration consume water before, during and after a workout.
Eating after your workout is essential if you want to hit those goals and get the most from your workouts.
When working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel and the proteins in your muscles are broken down and damaged. Post-workout, your body needs to replenish its glycogen stores and repair those muscles.
Eating the right nutrients post-workout will speed up this process. Carbs and protein are required to help replenish glycogen stores, decrease muscle protein breakdown, increase protein synthesis (growth) and enhance your recovery.
Aim to eat your post-workout snack/meal as soon as possible after working out and don’t leave it any longer than 45 minutes.
It is also a great time to enjoy a little of the sweet stuff as quick-release carbs can be consumed and will be used to replenish those depleted energy stores.
Examples might include:
Small cup of yoghurt and berries (add a little drizzle of honey here if you fancy!)
Cottage cheese with fruit
Experiment with what works best for you and your training. Ratios of macronutrients might need to be adjusted to suit your individual needs and the type of training you do.
Feel free to leave a comment below with any tips and ideas for tasty pre/post-workout snacks which you have found work well for you…