The first thing you probably think about when going to workout is to bring some water. Great! Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during and after your workout. You can even try to add a lemon.
But what’s the best food to fuel a great workout? Great question! Read on…
Caution! Now this is where I let you know that you need to consult your doctor before starting any weight loss, exercise or nutrition program. What we’re sharing here is what works for us for light to moderate exercising and that doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone. Please discuss all health-related topics with a licensed professional.
Fuel up for a Great Workout
Going to workout today? Great! As we mentioned above, you won’t forget your water, but did you know you should eat something before your workout? Eating within the first hour of waking will kick-start your metabolism and give your body the fuel it needs.
But let’s talk about what to eat – what kind of fuel does your body need so you get the most out of the time you spend working out. Pre-workout and post-workout meals should be different. Eat Carbohydrates (carbs) pre-workout to provide the energy you need to fuel your workout. And eat Protein to build your muscles and repair them after your workout – especially on your strength training days.
While you don’t want to chow-down on a big meal before going to the gym, you shouldn’t skip a meal either. Eating a little something prior to your workout will help you avoid dizziness and fatigue while working out. You also want to avoid getting distracted by a growling stomach and hunger pangs.
Your ‘Before’ workout snack should be easy-to-digest carbohydrates. If you had a meal more than 3 hours prior to your workout, or do your workouts in the morning right after waking up, be sure to eat a 1/2 banana or some yogurt before working out. You can even try a fruit shake about 30 minutes before your workout.
Eat within 30 minutes to an hour after your workout and be sure your meal contains protein to repair and help build your muscles. Dairy products, eggs, lean meat, and poultry fall into this category. You may even want to try a protein shake with fruit. See below for my post-workout protein bars.
Here are some suggestions for foods you can eat after exercising:
- Yogurt and fruit (cottage cheese)
- Peanut Butter sandwich
- Whole wheat bagel with cheese or peanut butter
- Sandwich with lean lunch meat like turkey, ham or roast beef
- Eggs and toast
- Smoothie with protein powder or yogurt
Or simply plan your exercise to end 30 minutes prior to your next meal and have a full meal with carbohydrates and protein.
The Winning Fuel Equation
Keep in mind that the duration and intensity of your activity will dictate how often and what you should eat and drink. Do what works best for you.
No matter what you choose to eat before or after your next workout, remember that consuming more calories than you used during your workout will delay your weight loss. And worse, overeating as a reward for working out can make you feel that exercising isn’t providing the benefits you are striving for. Keep in mind that exercise and being active has long-term gains that are critical to your health and aren’t always seen in a mirror.
If you want to reward yourself after a great workout, drink a nice glass of ice water (and 1/2 an OhYeah! bar – see below) and think about how great you’ll look and feel when you are down a(nother) size. That’s well worth the effort!
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I haven’t found another bar to compare to their great taste – it’s unbelievable. I have 1/4 after strength training as my reward for a great workout and the protein is just what my muscles need too. Try them and see if you like them as much as we do!