Your workout isn’t just about the weight you are losing or the muscles you are gaining. You need to eat the right foods at the right time to burn more calories, stay energised, and increase muscle recovery.
If you exercise for an hour it doesn’t mean you can binge eat a packet of crisps or biscuits afterwards. You need to find out what foods work best for your body and tailor them to suit your workout.
The best time to eat is anytime from forty-five minutes to three hours before you workout depending on your body. You don’t want to feel like you are being weighed down during a workout or still be digesting your food whilst you are doing squats. So fuel up plenty of time before! If you are going for an early morning gym session then you probably won’t have time to eat a big meal. However, you should ensure you eat something. Not eating before exercising means you are depriving your body of the nutrition it needs to fuel your workout and keep your energy levels up. It can also slow down your metabolism and make it harder for you to work off those extra pounds. You can’t drive a car with an empty tank of fuel, so you should apply the same principal to working out.
It’s all about carbohydrates for fuel
Carbohydrates are the one when it comes to getting ready for a workout! They get broken down into glucose, enter muscles cells and give you the fuel to workout to your best ability. It is best to eat simple carbs as the energy is then released slowly and steadily. A lack of glucose during a workout could make the difference between a ten minute workout and an hour long one. Because without much of it you will feel tired and weak. Simple carbs include a granola bar, a piece of fruit, Greek yoghurt, dried fruit, whole-wheat toast, crackers, whole-grain pasta, brown rice or rice cakes.
But don’t forget protein too
Don’t forget protein too! Consuming protein before a workout allows your system to have a greater delivery of amino acids to your muscles. Thus allowing your muscles to grow more. Pre-workout protein will also increase resting energy expenditure. Good protein filled foods to eat before include nuts, Greek yoghurt, turkey, hardboiled egg and milk.
Hydration is key also
However, it isn’t just food you need to worry about before a gym session, it’s essential to be properly hydrated. It’s recommended you drink about two cups of water two to three hours before exercise. Along with one cup of water ten to twenty minutes before working out. You don’t want to overdo it right before a workout so tailor it to suit you and keep hydrated whilst exercising.
During your workout
Unless you are planning on working out for hours on end you don’t need to eat whilst you are exercising. Should you be doing intense workouts then you should eat every thirty minutes 50-100 calories of carbohydrates. Bananas, raisins or energy bars are good and not too heavy on your stomach either. Needless to say keeping hydrated is a must during a workout.
What you consume after exercising is just as important as what you eat before. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine recommends consuming protein and a little carbohydrate is best immediately after exercising. It’s vital to replenish the glycogen that has been depleted during your workout. Therefore, once again carbs and protein will be your bread and butter for the best results. Especially the first 30 to 60 minutes after a workout.
Whilst eating is a must after working out, what and how much food you consume is down to your fitness goals. If the goal is to lose weight, try to keep post-workout snacks under 150 calories and meals under 500 calories. However, if you are trying to gain weight then don’t worry about overcompensating as long as it isn’t junk food.
Eat protein for muscle recovery
Protein is the best way to help your muscles quickly recover from a workout and help grow them. Reducing muscle inflammation is key to speeding up the healing process, which is why salmon is a great protein rich post-workout meal that regulates insulin levels and gives you joint support. After having your energy worn out, foods full of antioxidants can give your body a natural boost making you feel great inside and out. One of the biggest fitness food trends is known for just that, avocados can help your body better absorb fat soluble nutrients that your vegetables have like vitamins A, D, E and K. Other post-workout protein foods/snacks good for you include a baked potato, whole grain bagel, peanut butter sandwich, chocolate milk (shocking yes but it refuels and rebuilds muscles), tuna, and eggs.
Replenish blood sugar levels with carbohydrates
When working out you burn a lot of carbohydrates (the main fuel for your muscles) and in order to spare protein you should also consume complex carbs to replenish glycogen, spike insulin levels and speed up recovery. Sweet potatoes are a tasty and healthy snack that can help restore the glycogen levels depleted after exercise. Toast is a quick snack and contains carbohydrates to restore the energy you have used, it also contains fibre to keep your blood sugar levels even. If you serve it with an egg, you will be adding your protein quota and will have all of the amino acids your body needs to build muscles. Other post-workout complex carbohydrate foods good for you include quinoa, brown rice, tofu, beans, whole grain turkey wrap and fish.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids
After a workout you need drink plenty of fluids, especially water. However, if you want something a little bit more exciting mix 100 percent orange juice with your water for a drink full of carbohydrates, fluids and potassium.