You’ve probably been told that the way you eat trumps the way you exercise, in other words, your diet is an integral part of your journey towards fitness glory. It is the fuel that supplies your body with all the nutrients it needs to get you through the workout. If we were to make an analogy and compare your body to a high-performance car, the quality of the fuel you put in the tank would affect the performance of your vehicle. Do you aspire to become a high-performance athlete? Then settle only for higher octane fuel.
While it’s important what you eat, it’s also crucial when you eat. The age-old question: is it better to eat before or after a workout? Scientists who tried to tackle this question couldn’t come up with a simple answer as most studies showed mixed results. The results varied depending on the type of exercise the subject was performing and the type of metabolism the subject in question had.
Since this is a subjective topic, you’ll have to figure out for yourself what suits you better. However, you might also ask yourself – what should I eat before and after a workout? Here’s our take on it.
What to Eat Before Working Out
If you’re a type of person who works out in the morning and considers breakfast to be one of the most important meals of the day, make sure it’s rich in fast-digestive carbs. Getting your “good” carbs before you hit the gym will ensure your muscles are primed with glucose and ready to take on whatever you throw at them.
Dried fruit, oatmeal mixed with Greek Yogurt, or a granola bar are good examples of simple carbohydrates that are digested fast and with ease. If you like intermittent exercises like HIIT (high-intensity interval training), eating carbs should yield an improvement in your performance.
For weight training, make sure to add some protein to your pre-workout meal. When you lift heavy weights, your muscles are put under a lot of stress, which can lead to microscopic tears. Your body is quick to react and repair these tears, but it needs protein to mend the damage. Again, focus on small amounts of fast-digestive protein that can be found in soy milk, hard-boiled eggs, and Greek Yogurt.
When it comes to pre-workout meals, the number one question that arises is: how long should I wait to exercise after I eat? Depending on your work schedule and life-related obligations, make sure to squeeze in a meal somewhere between half an hour to 3 hours before hitting the gym.
What to Eat After Working Out
After you’ve pushed yourself beyond your limits, it’s time to reward yourself with some much-needed macronutrients and replenish some of the calories you lost. After your workout, your body is in repair mode, and it needs all the protein it can get to speed up the process. Healthy sources of protein include grilled chicken or fish, tofu, veggie omelet.
Your glycogen stores are also entirely dried out, so eating some carbs is also advisable, only this time, go for complex carbohydrates. A slice of whole wheat bread, a hand of nuts, or some brown rice are all good sources of carbs that are slower to break down.
Timing is everything, so make sure to eat as soon as possible. Your body needs energy in order to repair itself and function properly — at least have a snack as soon as you leave the gym.
One more thing to remember is replenishing your electrolytes. When you workout, you sweat a lot, resulting in a significant loss of these valuable minerals. Have a Gatorade or some coconut water after you’re done working out.
The bottom line is – listen to your body, time your meals right, and find out what works best for you. Need help with your diet? Our personal trainers are certified to give out nutrition advice and can help you eat clean. For more articles that can help you stay fit, make sure to frequently visit our blog section.