Good morning everyone,
This is a great article! I have been asked these questions many times over the years by clients, friends, family and even the occasional stranger in the grocery store. What should I eat before or after I workout and how much? What are the time-frame’s for eating before and after? How much and when should I be drinking water? These questions are very important for getting the most out of your workout as well as helping to restore your energy and speed recovery time afterward. This will at least give you some insight and make it a little easier to understand the benefits of what we eat and how it helps us. And it gives us some great recipes too! Enjoy!
What to eat before and after you exercise to help fight fatigue, increase stamina and ease recovery.
Whether you’re a back-of-the-pack marathon runner, a competitive triathlete or a weekend warrior just trying to get a little healthier, what – and when – you eat can affect how you feel and how you perform. Follow these pre- and post-workout noshing tips to make the most of your workout’s calorie-burning potential, and to help your body recuperate more quickly.
Hydration is key to performing at your best. In its “Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness” recommendations, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests downing 2 to 3 cups of water in the two to three hours prior to your workout and ½ to 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. If it’s warmer (or you sweat more than the average person), drink a bit more. Unless you’re planning a 90-minute or longer workout, scrap the sports drinks and stick with plain water.
Time it right
Eating right before stepping onto your mat or treadmill can sap your energy, set off cramps or even send you running for the ladies’ room. But going too long without food can leave you without the stamina you need to ace the competition.
To feel fueled throughout your workout, follow the Mayo Clinic’s meal timing guidelines:
- Small (100- to 200-calorie) snacks should be consumed about 30 minutes to an hour before your workout
- If you plan to eat a small meal, it should be eaten two to three hours before a workout
- If you’ll be eating a larger meal, do so no less than three to four hours before exercising
Eat smart and simple
Choose meals or snacks that won’t leave you bloated or gassy when a workout is on your day’s agenda. (Obvious no-no’s include greasy burgers and high-sugar sodas.)
The ideal pre-workout meal or snack is low in fat, moderate in carbohydrates and protein, low in fiber and is made up of familiar foods. Some good choices include:
- Quick Black Beans and Rice (you may want to omit the jalapeno)
- Hummus with whole grain crackers or raw carrots and celery, or Hummus and Cucumber Bites
- Granola Fruit Kabobs
- Creamy Avocado Smoothie or Super Athlete Spinach Smoothie
- Healthified Raspberry-Peanut Butter Pinwheels
- Vegetable Bagel
- Half a peanut butter or turkey sandwich on whole grain bread
- A granola bar with protein, such as Nature Valley Protein bars
- Whole grain cereals (like Cheerios or Wheaties) with low-fat milk
- An apple and small handful of nuts
- Fruit and Spice Oatmeal, or any plain oatmeal topped with fruit
Eat up to cool down
Within 30 minutes to an hour of finishing your workout, eat a small amount of protein and a whole grain. Meals like English Muffin Breakfast Pizzas, Healthified Chicken Pineapple Stir-Fry or Healthified Chicken and Black Bean Burritos help refuel energy stores, and build and repair your soon-to-be stronger muscles. Not able to squeeze in a meal that soon? Try some low-fat chocolate milk, a hard-boiled egg or a fruit-and-nut bar likeLarabar for great recovery benefits.
Just remember that how much and how often you eat depends on the duration and intensity of your workout. Tackling a triathlon burns more energy than a restorative yoga class, so make smart choices based on your personal calorie needs.