Before you get your sweat on, fuel up with the right mix of proteins, fats and carbs – no one wants to crash mid-squat. And don’t skip the post-workout nosh, either. That’s when your body is in recovery mode and in desperate need of the perfect balance of protein and complex carbs. Read on for what to eat and drink before and after your next workout so you make the most of it.
Pre-Workout Meal Options
You might be hitting those weights or the track hard for sixty minutes, but your body works to build muscle and recover all day long. Fueling up properly before you get started gives your body exactly what it needs to do its job after you’ve pushed it to the limit. Here’s the catch – some people just can’t work out with a heavy meal in their belly. Figure out where you fall, then your pick of these pre-workout options.
For the light snacker, try a mix of nuts and berries – about a ¼ cup of nuts to ½ cup of berries. Blueberries in particular are bursting with anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to reduce and even prevent soreness from exercise. Nuts like pistachios are a good source of fats and protein. You can pair a nut butter like almond or peanut with apple slices too – another good combo of protein and carbs. The apple will supply you with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep you from crashing during your workout, and the nut butter will keep a lid on hunger pangs and give you a little energy boost.
Need something a little more filling? Try some Greek yogurt. You can pair it with a handful of berries for flavor (and those handy anti-inflammatory properties). Oatmeal is another classic pre-workout fuel. It will gradually release sugar into your bloodstream as you train to keep you going.
Tip: Depending on how early your workout is, how hungry you are and what you’re planning on eating, shoot for a meal between sixty to thirty minutes before you train – even if you work out very early in the morning. Exercising on an empty stomach can actually make your workout seem harder, and worse, there’s no benefit in terms of fat loss. And who wants that?
Post-Workout Meal Options
After a killer cardio session or some grueling resistance training, your muscles go into recovery mode. Help your body repair the tissue that your workout broke down with an influx of protein and complex carbs. Aim for a rough 2:1 ratio of complex carbs to high-quality protein.
Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie
In a blender, combine 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, ½ cup cooked sweet potato, 1 cup of almond milk, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg and some ice. Blend until smooth.
If you prefer not to drink your calories, plan ahead for a sit-down meal. Grilled chicken with a side of mixed veggies is a classic nutrient-dense dish. You’ll fill up on the protein and carbs you need without feeling bloated. If you’re ready for breakfast, have your side of veggies with eggs. Scramble them with extra egg whites or whip up an omelet – and don’t forget the avocado to help your body more efficiently absorb the fat-soluble nutrients in your vegetables.
Make sure to pair your post-workout meal with plenty of water to re-hydrate.
Tip: Try to down that protein within an hour of exercising – the window of opportunity for greater muscle and strength gains. Protein shakes make it fast and easy.