Ever get confused on what you should be eating pre and post workouts and what you should be avoiding?! With so many sports drinks, bars, supplements and powders out there it is no wonder one would be unsure of what is best for them.
What you eat before and after your workouts can be more crucial than you may think. Eating right before will help give you the energy to power through your workout, and eating right after the workout will help your muscles to recover faster and come back stronger.
Characteristics of Pre-Workout Meal
According to this article
written on WebMd, there are an ideal 5 characteristics for a pre-workout meal: low fat, carbohydrates and protein, low fiber, contain fluids, and made up of familiar well-tolerated foods. Meaning this is not the time to be introducing new foods that you are unfamiliar with how your body may react to. Also stay away from fried or greasy foods that will be hard on your stomach during your workout.
Now whether you are powering through a heart pumping cardio treadmill run, or working on building up those biceps depends on the ratio of carbs to protein you should be consuming before your workout. When you are building muscle you need a higher supply of protein for tissue repair. While on the other hand, you will need more carbs for energy supply when powering through a cardio session.
Pre-Workout Meal for Strength Training
Depending how intense your strength training workout may be depends on how much protein you’ll need. You’ll want to consume at the very least 50% of your meal as protein, the other 50% as carbohydrates, as you still need energy to get through any workout. If your workout is more intense, feel free to bump up that protein intake to 75%.
You will want to consume this meal about 1-2 hours before your workout to make sure you have a reserve supply of protein ready to for the upcoming workout. Some great suggestions would be an egg white omelet with toast and skim milk. Or greek yogurt topped with walnuts and honey. Depending on if this is your meal or snack for the day will determine how much you should be eating.
Pre-Workout Meal for Cardio
Now with cardio sessions, you will want mostly carbohydrates to make up your pre-workout meal to boost blood sugar levels to give you enough energy to make it through your workout. Aim for about 75% carbohydrates for your pre-meal. You want to still add protein to your pre-workout meal to help prevent any fatigue that could be caused from consuming an only carbohydrate meal. Meals such as oatmeal or whole grain cereal topped with raisins and walnuts with skim milk should do the trick. This needs to be consumed about 30-60 minutes before hitting that treadmill.
After your workout there is a time period called the “recovery period”. This time is crucial for refueling and replenishing your body with all the nutrients that were lost in the workout. Again it depends on if you were doing a cardio or strength training workout.
After Strength Training Meals
You have about an hour or two after an intense strength training workout to repair your muscles, replenish the glycogen stores, and prevent muscle soreness. This is the prime time where protein is used to build lean muscles instead of being stored as fat, so you will want to take advantage of this time.
Protein shakes are always a good choice to help get in your protein as a quick fix, yet whole foods are going to be your best option in providing you with more nutrients. Food items such as: eggs, fish, chicken and cottage cheese will not only supply you with ample amounts of protein for your recovery, but they will also provide you with essential vitamins and nutrients.
Try out this Chicken with Black Bean Sauce dish
, it has tons of protein to help your muscles recover faster, yet carbohydrates to help restore your glycogen as well. It’s also loaded with vitamins and nutrients that protein shakes won’t be able to supply you with. This is the sort of dish you are going to be looking for in a post workout meal.
After Cardio Meals
When it comes to cardio workouts your goal is again to replenish the glycogen and energy stores. Try foods with whole grains, fruits and veggies. Piece of whole wheat toast, banana, or small sweet potato are all great examples.
With both cardio and strength training workouts you are going to want to make sure you rehydrate. A large amount of water is lost through perspiration, especially in cardio workouts. Pure water is the best source for the average exerciser. Although if your cardio session is lasting longer than 2 hours, you will want to rehydrate with electrolytes as well, sports drinks will be your best bet here.