It’s a common question around the gym, “What should I eat before my workout?” and “What about after?” It is an important thing to consider when you are looking for maximum gains from your workout. You are spending a lot of time in the gym working on developing your body, so why not put the best possible ingredients into it to help with the process.
Before your workout it is important to consume foods that will give you the energy to get through the entire workout. Complex carbohydrates can help with this. Things like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You definitely want to avoid simple, sugary carbohydrates as they tend to give you a “sugar high” and lead to a crash, likely about half way through your workout when you need the extra energy the most. You want to ensure that you aren’t eating too soon before your workout as it could lead to stomach cramping. It’s best to shoot for at least 30 minutes prior to a workout. Also, make sure you drink lots of water. You are likely planning to sweat during your workout and staying hydrated is important.
During your workout you will want to avoid food all together. Definitely keep your water bottle close at hand though! You might also use a sports drink to rehydrate and boost energy during long duration exercise. Just watch out for drinks that contain a lot of sugar.
After your workout might be the most important meal to take into consideration. Within about 30 minutes of completing your workout you will want to take in some carbohydrates again to replenish the glycogen levels in your muscles (all the energy you just used up). Within an hour your body will want some protein which is essential for muscle growth and development. This is important because it is why you went to the gym in the first place! You will also need to drink water post-exercise to replenish all the water you lost during the workout due to sweating. Remember your meal after working out is helping to restore energy and help with muscle recovery, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
If you don’t have time to get home and make a chicken breast salad after your workout, try a protein smoothie with some frozen fruit, fruit juice, yogurt and scoop of protein powder. It’s easy to take on the go and provides you with everything your body needs after a workout! Always remember that eating healthily is important all day long, not just before and after a workout. Nothing can sabotage an early morning workout like hitting a fast food drive through for lunch. Plan ahead.
Say it! Mean it! Do it!