Should I eat before and after a workout? And if yes, then WHAT?
The answer is absolutely YES. What you eat will make or break your fat loss progress, sister.
This is the mistake I see time and time again. We are too rushed to get a quick snack pre-workout, and as a result we can’t push as hard. We get fatigued… and hangry.
Maybe we skip the pre-workout meal due to all fasted workout noise we hear all around. The truth is that you have to find what works for you. Fasted workouts might not be the right choice for you.
Another mistake I frequently see is NOT eating post-workout. “I just worked out, why would I eat? I am trying to burn calories baby”. Nope, that is not how it works.
Your body is a well-oiled machine that needs fuel before an activity that requires a large energy intake. Imagine not fueling your Ferrari before and after the race? What would happen? You have a sexy car but it goes nowhere because it has no fuel.
Working out on an empty stomach can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue (and we try to add more muscle here, remember?). If you don’t provide your body with food to fuel your workout, your body converts muscle tissue into glucose to provide the energy you need. That is not good whether you try to build muscle OR lose weight. The breakdown of muscle tissue can in fact impact your metabolism and cause injury.
Ok, then what to do?
Here’s a list of great tasting and energetic pre-workout snacks for you to try. Just remember to give it at least 30 minutes before you start exercising, otherwise you may feel sick or get acid re-flux.
Whole wheat toast with nut butter and a banana.
This snack provides you with both types of carbs – simple and complex carbs, needed for a slow release of energy during your workout to help you finish your routine at 100% efficiency. Also, bananas are a good source of potassium, which you need during a workout because your potassium levels drop due to the release of water and electrolytes from your body as a result of sweating.
Greek yogurt mixed with fruit, seeds and nuts.
Simple sugars from fruit will provide you with an energy boost in the beginning of your workout while nuts and seeds will keep your insulin levels from dropping in the middle of the routine.
Protein shake with low glycemic fruit/berries.
Mix a half of a scoop of your favorite protein powder with a half cup of non-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, a quarter cup of rolled oats and a half cup of cherries and blend it with ice for a great pre-workout snack. Again, sugar from fruit will give you a quick energy boost while complex oats will keep your insulin levels steady.
An apple and nut butter
If you are on the go, pick up an apple and prepackaged nut butter at a store near you (just make sure your nut butter does not have added oils or sugars) for a convenient and effective energy fuel. Healthy fats and proteins in nut butter will keep your insulin levels steady while providing your body with a constant source of energy.
Oatmeal with fruit/berries.
Old fashion rolled oats mixed with a half cup of blueberries and two servings of egg whites (sprinkle it with a pinch of cinnamon for a boost of flavor) are a great pre-workout meal. It has both simple and complex carbs, and egg whites increase the protein content in the meal. This simple and delicious meal will satisfy both your hunger and will keep your energy levels up during any workout.
Now let’s talk about the post-workout snack.
It is just as important as the pre-workout snack. Why? Exercise of any kind depletes your muscle glycogen stores that your body uses as an energy source (read about it HERE). Also, your muscles develop small tears during a workout. Those small tears get fixed and that is how your muscles grow, but only if you provide your body with the resources to repair them. Yes, it is food that helps your muscles rebuild and grow.
I always say that every food you like can fit into your macros, but a post-workout snack is the one to think more carefully about. Just because you burned 500 cal during a workout doesn’t mean that you can eat a fatty burger even if it fits your macros. The right amount and right kind of macro- and micro-nutrients is very important to follow up your workout.
Your post-workout snack needs to have protein and carbs. Carbs are just as important as protein in a post-workout snack because you need to restore your glycogen stores. The optimal time window for consuming your snack is 20-40 minutes after your workout.
Here are 5 great choices of post-workout snacks for you:
Whole wheat toast with 1 tbsp of peanut butter.
You have already finished the workout, so there is no need for simple sugars. Complex carbs and protein is what you need. Whole wheat toast is a source of complex carbs and peanut butter is a source of protein, combined with a good amount of healthy fats.
Mix a scoop of protein powder with a ½ cup of non-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. I do not recommend non-dairy milk in this case because it has virtually no fat. If you avoid dairy and have to mix it with a non-dairy milk, add a ¼ cup of rolled oats as a source of complex carbs.
Lean protein + complex carb
Chicken breast, lean turkey or white fish + brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat pasta
1 egg + 2 servings of egg whites + vegetable omelet.
Vegetables are a great source of complex carbs, they are also high in micro-nutrients and fiber. You can add veggies everywhere as they always fit!
Whole wheat toast + canned tuna + hummus.
This is an amazing sandwich that is high in both protein and complex carbs. It’s easy to just stop at a store right after the gym and make a quick snack if you did not bring anything with you.
So those are my recommendations on pre- and post-workout nutrition.
I explained why both are extremely important, and why you should never skip either. Your success will come faster, you’ll get into your black skinny jeans in no time, and your body will recover from workouts quicker.
For more ideas on healthy pre- and post-workout snacks, check out the 25 Recipes for Easy Everyday Cooking, designed specially for busy women to burn fat on the go! The best part is they’re FREE, get them here www.sexyfit.com/recipes.
Have a great workout!