Your pre-workout food should be helping you fuel and giving your body the energy to push through an intense workout. Afterward, you should be nourishing your body that will help it recover and enough protein to encourage muscle growth.
Before you begin working out, you should start eating some healthy carbs and making sure you’re adequately hydrated.
Carbs are what give the body the necessary energy to power through a workout. Not having enough energy before your workout will limit your ability to burn calories. Ideally, you should fuel up two hours before you plan on working out.
Focus on eating healthy carbs like whole-grain cereals with low-fat or skim milk, whole-wheat toast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, or fruits and vegetables. Avoid saturated fats and even healthy proteins before a workout; they digest slower in your stomach and will take away oxygen from your muscles.
If you’re in a time-crunch and only have ten minutes before your workout to eat, eat an apple or banana, or whatever fruit you have on hand.
Some people believe in the power of exercising on an empty stomach, but that could lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea. If you prefer the feeling of working out on an empty stomach, try eating something light, like a granola bar, to give your body just enough nutrients to get through.
Even if you think you can skip the pre-workout snack, you need to be eating after a workout. Your body needs replacements for all of the calories it just burned. When you skip the post-gym meal, you’ll end up fatigued and with low blood sugar. Plus, you’re keeping your body from making progress.
There are three important groups you should be focusing on after finishing your workout: fluids, carbohydrates and protein.
First, make sure you’re re-hydrating yourself with plenty of water. You’ll also want to drink some 100 percent juice which can provide you with carbs and potassium.
You just burned a bunch of carbohydrates, so you’ll want to replenish your body’s main source of energy. Focus on complex carbohydrates like quinoa or brown rice and incorporate some healthy proteins like tofu or fish. The most important post-workout food group is protein. Protein is what helps repair and build your muscles. If you’re not trying to gain weight, then keep your post-workout snack to 150 calories, and your post-workout meal under 500.