People often ask: “What should I eat before and after I work out?” When it comes to eating for our exercise needs, ‘nutrient timing’ and choosing the correct macronutrient-dense food makes all the difference in our performance prior to a workout or our recovery after a workout.
We all know the holidays are a tough time to stay on track with our nutrition, so a quick and easy way to make sure that we do so is by getting an appropriate intake of fruits and vegetables every day. The daily recommendations for fruits are 1.5 to 2 cups a day and for vegetables and about 3-4 cups a day. Eating enough fruits and vegetables ensures that we are giving our body what it needs to operate properly and since the fiber count is so high in fruits and vegetables you stay full and will not be as likely to indulge in holiday junk food.
Pre-workout: When it comes to proper nutrition pre-workout, we want to make sure that we are getting a small amount of complex carbohydrates from fruits and whole-grain sources. Complex carbohydrates are a good source of natural sugar that naturally provide an energy boost that powers you through your workout and does not have that crashing effect soon after, such as processed sugars would do. We also want to make sure that we are taking a good amount of protein to help stimulate muscle growth and gives you long-lasting energy. Lastly, choose a good fat source. Fats are great for quick bursts of power when you need it the most and are quickly absorbed and used while working out. A great example of a pre-workout snack would be a slice of whole-wheat toast with almond butter or even half a banana with some almond butter. Both are calorically dense and have balanced amounts of good carbs, fats, and proteins to give you a stellar workout. Typically, these types of snacks should be eaten about 30-45 min prior to exercise to give your body time to appropriately digest and absorb the nutrients.
Post-Workout: When it comes to proper nutrition post-workout its extremely important that these meals be very protein and carbohydrate dense. The proteins help repair and grow the broken-down muscle fibers after a hard workout. The carbohydrates should come from vegetables. Vegetables are nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates that help the muscle fibers grow but they also allow your body to digest and metabolize food better. Typically, you would want to eat your post-workout meal within an hour after working out. This is because, after exercise, your body is so nutrient-deficient that it can quickly absorb what you feed it. A great example of a post-workout meal would be something as simple as lean chicken breast with a side of asparagus.
We all know what we should be eating to stay healthy, we just need the will power to hold ourselves accountable. Stay strong and healthy during these last few weeks of the year and happy holidays!
By: Sergio Villamizar – Wellness Coach