Does anyone really know what we should eat before and after a workout? The topic is confusing because every individual is different, but there are a few things you could add to your diet before and after a workout to refuel your body for the best outcomes.
There are a few tips on how and what you should eat before your workout. To have a productive and energetic workout, you should:
Time your meal correctly
- The ideal time to eat is between 30 minutes to three hours before your workout. That way you’re not still digesting while doing activity, but you haven’t used up all those helpful calories yet. This timing can be individualized, trial and error can be applied when estimating how long before a workout you should eat. If you’re working out first thing in the morning you should opt for a small snack or mini-breakfast.
Hydrate before you workout
- It’s best to get your body hydrated before you even think about heading to the gym. There is no standard method to determine fluid needs during exercise, but a good place to start is drinking about two cups of water around two to three hours before exercise and one cup of water about 10 to 20 minutes before working out. The goal is to minimize dehydration.
Have a pre-workout snack with carbs
- Carbs give us energy. After consuming a significant amount of carbs, they break down into glucose, enter our muscle cells, and give us fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity. Some recommended snacks high in carbs to eat before your workout for quick energy include a granola bar, a piece of fruit, oatmeal, crackers, a rice cake, or a piece of toast
Make sure your pre-workout snack has protein
- Consuming a little bit of protein before your workout is great, especially if you are doing weight training. When we do strength-training exercises such as lifting weights, we create small tears in our muscle fibers. When you rest, your body repairs those micro-tears, building up your muscles bigger and stronger than they were before—and it needs protein to do it. Go for sources of protein that are easy to digest like nuts, Greek yogurt, a slice of turkey, a hard-boiled egg, or a glass of regular or soy milk.
In terms of what you should eat after your workout to replenish your body:
- Rehydrate your body
- Make sure to eat something soon
- Refuel with carbs and protein
In terms of pre-workout snacks, here are some recommendations:
- A smoothie with one cup of fruit and two cups of vegetables, or this protein-packed green smoothie recipe (drink half before the workout and half after)
- An apple or pear with nut butter
- Greek yogurt with granola and berries
- Dried fruit with mixed nuts
- A granola bar
- Rice cakes topped with nut butter
- Oatmeal with peanut butter and fruit
- Baked salmon, brown rice, and roasted veggies
A few recommended post-workout snacks that can provide complex carbohydrates and protein are:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
Every body is individual, and what works best for other people may not be right for you. Start with trial and error to find out the best diet routine before and after your workouts!
Written by GUADS intern Sara with contributions from (https://www.self.com/) and edited by GUADS staff member Kate