Eating for your workout not only helps you stay healthy and keep your energy up, but it also can help you lose weight faster, burn more calories, build muscles, recover more quickly, and boost your energy for the rest of the day. Many people believe that by not eating, you can lose weight, but this is not true. Although weight loss is increased when dieting and exercise are combined, dieting does not mean cutting out meals. You may actually gain more weight because your body is not getting its proper nutrients. It is important to maintain a regular workout schedule and eat the right foods right after you finish your workout instead of waiting until the next meal.
Eating Before You Work Out
First off, eating before you exercise gives you the suitable amount of energy you need to get through a proper workout. Note that eating before your workout does not increase the amount of calories burned during your workout directly. It does, however, give you more energy for your workout, which in turn allows you to exercise longer. That helps you burn more calories than less intense activities. It is important to eat simple and complex carbs and proteins to give yourself glucose sugar as fuel for your body and your workout. But make sure your meal is not too heavy, so your meal doesn’t weigh you down during your workout.
- Wheat toast with banana
- Greek yogurt and trail mix
- Oatmeal and fresh fruit: throughout your workout, oatmeal will continue to release sugar into your bloodstream, while the fruit helps you stay hydrated
- Apples: apples are a sugary but healthy treat you can have to give you energy
Eating After You Work Out
The Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine notes that proteins and carbs are also necessary immediately after you exercise. What you eat after you exercise is the most important thing you’ll eat all day. Nutritionist and personal trainer Brad Sly states, “It has been determined that the body’s cells are most receptive to replenishment, particularly glycogen stores, within the first thirty minutes after intense training. Essentially the clock starts ticking for an athlete as soon as they enter their cool down.” There is a 45-minute window after you finish your workout that your body is most receptive to digesting proteins and carbs.
- Peanut butter sandwich on multi-grain bread
- Protein shakes
- Dried fruit and nuts: for a protein boost
- Bananas: besides being a fast acting carb, bananas help keep your potassium levels up, which helps to avoid charley horses and rebuild muscle
- Salmon: the omega 3s help rebuild your muscles
- Quinoa: this is full of carbs, protein, and vitamins to help you recover after your workout
- Blueberries: these berries give you a huge antioxidant boost; some studies show they can triple your recovery rate after a work out
- Pita and hummus: this carb and protein combination will keep your energy up after your workout
Although eating before and after workouts is very important in helping you maintain your energy level and helping your body recover after exercising, food is not the most important thing to remember when heading into a workout. Staying hydrated is vital and while many people love sugary sports drinks that help give you energy, there is nothing better than good old-fashioned water. It is important to drink water and stay hydrated throughout the day, not just when exercising. Your body is made up of over 55% water; it is therefore important to drink enough water in order to keep your body in peak condition. Trust us, dehydration is not fun — it can lead to nausea, cramping, and even fainting. So remember, eat right, drink water, and most importantly: Enjoy your workout and its benefits to their fullest!