Pre and Post Workout Nutrition Advice:
“What should I eat before and after my workouts?”
Numerous studies have concluded that consuming carbohydrates before exercise results in improved performance when compared with exercising on an empty stomach. Many experts recommend a low GI (glycemic index) meal before exercise to supply sustained energy during your workout. Low GI foods are, for example: apples, pears, oranges, grapefruits, most vegetables, whole grain bread and pasta, nuts and seeds, fish, lean meat, cheese, yogurt and keifer. Try consuming one or more of these before a workout.
“When is the best time to eat before an exercise?”
Ideally, you should eat a meal between 2 and 4 hours before working out because this leaves enough time for your stomach to settle so you don’t feel uncomfortable, not too full and not too hungry during your workout. And then, perhaps a quick snack about 45 mins before, to keep you well fuelled and keep hunger at bay during your workout.
Pre-workout Meal and Snack Ideas
Pre-workout Meal Ideas (2-4 hours before workout)
- Sandwich filled with chicken, cheese, egg or peanut butter
- Protein-filled Salad
- Pasta with tomato-based pasta sauce and vegetables
- Chicken with rice and salad
- Vegetables with noodles or rice
- Whole grain cereal
Pre-workout Snack Ideas (about 1 hour before a workout)
- Fresh fruit – example: apple, orange, pear, etc.
- Dried fruit – example: dates, raisins etc.
- Energy/Protein bar
- Banana bread/muffin
- Diluted fruit juice
What about hydration during a workout?
For most activities lasting less than an hour, water is most necessary to keep you hydrated. However, during exercise that is long distance (over an hour), or high intensity training you may want to include other drinks including water, such as coconut water or diluted fruit juice.
“When is the best time to eat after exercise?”
It is best to start refuelling your body as soon as possible after a workout. Try to consume both protein and carbohydrates after a workout. Together, they promote more efficient muscle tissue growth and refuel your energy sources much faster.
The best time to start refuelling is as soon as possible after exercise, during the first hour replenishment to muscles is most rapid (and particularly in the first 20 mins after exercise finishes). Therefore, eating carbohydrates during this time speeds up recovery time. However, when you consume protein and carbohydrates together immediately after exercise they promote more efficient muscle tissue growth as well as faster refuelling of the bodies energy stores. Many people believe that it’s protein you need most after your workout. But if for example your exercise consisted of running for at least 1 hour at moderate intensity, you’ve burned a lot of your body’s fuel. If you only consumed protein, you are not restoring the bodies fuel tanks, remember that carbs are the fuel for the body. So, when you go running tomorrow you’ll find you won’t have as much energy and will feel fatigued much faster. You have depleted the body’s fuel and haven’t filled up. Just like a car, you can’t get very far with an empty gas tank. Therefore, the optimal post-workout meal or drink should include protein and carbohydrates in a ratio of about 1:4.
Post-Exercise snack ideas (consumed within 1 hour after exercise):
- Cheese and whole grain, high fibre crackers
- Chocolate milk
- half of a peanut butter sandwich (whole grain bread with natural nut butter)
- half of tuna fish sandwich
- Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds
A final thought: begin to record your fuelling around the time of your exercise, and how you feel the next day. Each individual will need to fuel differently. By recording your intake, you can start to identify what helps you feel the best during and after your workout!
Great job! Keep at it in this second week!