Question: What and when should I eat before and after my workouts? Is it necessary I eat before and after?
It is vitally important that you eat something before and after your workouts.
Food is energy, and you need energy to get through your workouts with lots of strength and endurance. More importantly, eating before your workouts will also keep you from feeling dizzy or like you’re going to be sick from low glucose/sugar levels. Furthermore, to BURN FAT WHILE ALSO MAINTAINING MUSCLE, you need to eat t 1-2 hours before your workouts to ensure your body and muscles are fueled by food, not body tissue. If your muscles aren’t fueled by food, your body will find resources beyond fat stores and use things like your own muscle to energize and fuel your workout. Seems a little counterproductive to what you’re trying to accomplish doesn’t it!? You want to build lean muscle to burn more calories at rest…not lose it.
What to have before a workout
Carbohydrates give you energy, and they give you energy fast. Don’t let anyone tell you that carbs are bad for you, because they are misinformed. As long as you eat the right carbohydrates, they can actually help you lose weight, keep your energy high, and leave you feeling mentally sharp. Carbs are the first energy source your body uses while you workout, so this is your number one priority. Here are some clean eating carbohydrate meals to get you started:
- Fruit – Higher sugar fruits like bananas, pineapple, grapes, oragnes and grapefruit are good places to start. The higher sugar content gives you instant energy, so this is a good go-to option 30-60 minutes before a workout. Anything beyond 60 minutes, you can have high fiber fruits like berries, apples and pears.
- Yogurt – Goat’s yogurt (I prefer the easy to digest Goat’s yogurt) with some cinnamon and honey is a great pre-workout snack, but can also be used as an awesome post-workout snack due to the higher protein content as well. Just be sure you’re not eating yogurts with artificial sweeteners – additives make you fat, so opt for the natural plain ones instead and flavour them yourself.
- Oatmeal – Making your own is the best option and adding fruit, honey/maple syrup and nuts gives it a sweet flavour, but you could also buy some Nature’s Path instant oatmeal for something quick as well . My best suggestion is that due to the higher fiber content, you don’t want to have this immediately before a workout. 1-2 hours before is best.
- Dates with a tbsp of natural peanut butter – Dates are high in sugar compared to apples, pears and berries, but when coupled with natural peanut butter (that has healthy fat and protein in it), your body metabolizes the sugar slower and can be a great source of energy. Don’t overdo it on the dates though, two or three is more than enough.
- Water water water – One of the top reasons for daytime tiredness is dehydration. We constantly go for that cup of Joe instead, but drinking water all day can help kick your daytime sleepy head. I love my coffee, but I pound back water all day long like it is going out of style. Water is very important before a workout and if you flavour it with fruit, it gives you a little energy too!
- Lara Bars – I love these things!! They usually only have 3 ingredients, all of which are natural, so you’re not consuming these preservative and additives found in most ‘energy bars’ that are covered in chocolate.
What to have after a workout
When we workout we are creating little micro tears in our muscle fibers, and when they repair themselves post-workout, this is where the lean muscle is built. The catch is that muscle fibers are made up of protein, so the only way to repair them is to eat more protein. To get the best results, it is recommended you eat this within 60 minutes of your workout (ideally 30). Combining protein and carbs is the best combo so you can also bring your energy back up. Here are some clean eating protein meals to get you started:
- Goat’s yogurt – Adding fruit, honey, cinnamon and nuts/seeds is a delicious and satisfying snack. Flaxseed is also great for your hormones and fat-burning. Throw that in there too!
- Protein shake made with almond milk – I use protein powders that aren’t sweetened with aspartame, so brands like Genuine Health (vegan kinds) and Vega are great options. Adding in a banana, almond milk, natural peanut butter, spinach and instant coffee is unreal tasting! Get creative…just don’t have a scoop of powder with some water or almond milk. Barf.
- Eggs with Ezekiel toast or potatoes – Eggs are and amazing source of protein, and contain all of your 9 essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own. These are the building blocks of protein. Pairing this with some high quality sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel, or putting it on top of some baked potatoes give you the perfect combination of protein and carbs.
Beyond snack ideas:
- Meat with brown rice, sweet potato or brown rice pasta – Now is a great time to eat big, and enjoy some gluten free brown rice pasta with some homemade meat sauce on top. Great protein and carb combo.
- Brown rice or Ezekiel wrap fajita – Using the healthier bread wrap options, saute some veggies with chicken, and add some avocado along with salsa as a topper.
- Chilli – Like eggs, beans mixed with some brown rice or quinoa offers you all of your essential amino acids!
- Quinoa salad – There any many ways you can eat quinoa, and once again, this is also full of all of your essential amino acids. If quinoa is new to you, here’s a website where you to start here
My best advice is to ensure you’re eating clean 90% of the time – you don’t need pills and potions to get great results from your hard workouts. Most of them stress your kidneys. If you truly want to see the results of all your hard work, proper nutrition before and after your workouts is essential. Don’t sell yourself short.
Showing you the difference between liking and loving your body,
Ashley Dale Roy