When it comes to fitness, there are certain universal questions that experts hear almost every day: How can I get the most out of my workouts? How can I lose weight faster, burn the most calories, and feel energized enough to power through every training session? While there are other elements that may affect your unique situation, there’s one simple answer that applies to all of these questions: Eat! More specifically, eat the right foods at the right time.
Source: Shape Magazine http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/best-foods-eat-and-after-your-workout
What to Eat Before Your Workout
The best pre-workout bite contains some form of complex carbohydrate and a protein. Here are some of my favorite meals and snacks to keep me energized during my workout without weighing me down.
- Brown rice (½ cup) with black beans (½ cup)
- Small sweet potato with steamed or lightly salted broccoli in olive oil (1 cup)
- Banana with almond butter (2 Tbsp)
- Multi-grain crackers (10) with hummus (3 Tbsp)
- Oatmeal (½ cup) with berries (1 cup), sweetened with stevia or agave
- Apple and walnuts (¼ cup)
The Importance of Eating After Your Workout
During exercise, your body taps the fuel stored in your muscles known as glycogen for energy. After you’ve cranked out that last rep, your muscles are depleted of their glycogen stores and broken down. Eating (or drinking) something that combines protein and carbohydrates 30 minutes to an hour after your workout refills energy stores, builds and repairs your muscles that were broken down, and helps keep your metabolism burning strong.
The sooner you start refueling, the better off you’ll be. Research shows that your body’s ablity to refill muscle stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just two hours after your workout compared to eating right away. Try to plan ahead and bring your recovery drink to the gym, or pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat when you’re finished.
What to Eat After Your Workout
According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, consuming protein and a little carbohydrate is best immediately after exercise. Here are the foods I eat after my training sessions to help speed up recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and help maintain lean muscle to aid in weight loss.
- Protein shake made with half of a banana, one scoop of protein powder, almond milk, and hemp seeds (excellent protein source)
- Salad with roasted chickpeas (½ cup), light olive oil and vinegar
- Sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup) with non-GMO tofu (½ cup)
- Quinoa bowl (1 cup) with black berries (1 cup) and pecans (1/4 cup)
- Multi-grain bread (2 slices) with raw peanut butter (2 Tbsp) and agave nectar
- Burrito with beans (½ cup), brown rice (½ cup), guacamole (2 Tbsp), and salsa
Nora Tobin is a fitness professional, GNC brand ambassador, competitive beach volleyball athlete, healthy lifestyle coach, writer, model, and adventurer living in Santa Barbara, Calif. She is writing a fitness book currently slated for publication that will serve as a manual for a knockout body, peaceful mind, and better planet.