One of the most common questions I get asked as a Nutritionist is: "What should I eat before and after a workout?"
Regular exercise is just as important as a healthy diet when it comes to creating a healthy mind, body and soul. But stressing over your pre-workout or post-workout nutrition should never prevent you from working out!
Today, I’m going to talk about pre-workout and post-workout nutrition in detail to help you fuel your fitness efficiently.
Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition For Early Morning Cardio
For those who like to run or do a burst of cardio first thing in the morning: If your workouts are short and low to moderate intensity like jogging or yoga, you may not need anything at all. During this type of exercise your body utilizes mostly fat for fuel, and your own body fat is often good enough.
Figure out what works best for you. Have a glass of water and check-in with your body. If you feel energized without food, don’t force it. After all, cavemen had to forage on an empty stomach.
However, if you do feel like you need an energy boost or you plan on a longer/more intense workout, grab an easy-digesting carbohydrate. Juicy fruits like berries, apples, grapes or peaches are the best since they offer extra hydration.
What to eat before early morning cardio: Easy digesting carbs (or nothing). Some examples:
- 1 piece of fruit
- 1 cup of berries/grapes
- ¼ cup dried fruit
- a cup of green juice
Tip: Avoid pre-workout supplements containing tons of caffeine. Coffee is cheaper and safer anyway.
What to eat after early morning cardio: A well-rounded breakfast such as....
- Toast with eggs and avocado
- Green smoothie with protein powder
- Oatmeal with fruit and hemp seeds
- Sweet Potato Toast
Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition For Weight/Resistance Training or Afternoon Workouts
If you ate a meal within the last 3 hours, your body will use that nutrition to fuel your workout. If not, have a small meal about 60 minutes before you exercise.
Remember: The less time you leave between your snack and your workout, the less time you will have to digest your food. This means you’ll be more likely to get a stomach ache than an energy boost. If you find yourself burping up food during your workout, you didn’t have enough time to digest it. Add an extra 30 minutes between your snack and workout next time.
What to eat before weight/resistance training or an afternoon workout: Carbs and some protein such as...
- A green smoothie with half a serving of protein powder
- Banana with peanut butter
- Handful of trail mix
- Protein Pancakes
What to eat after weight/resistance training or an afternoon workout: A mix of carbs, protein and fat such as...
- Banana with peanut butter and a scoop of protein powder
- ¼ cup of dried fruit and 2 hardboiled eggs
- A Tuna Melt
- Green Smoothie with protein powder
Tip: Adding anti-inflammatory nutrients after exercise can reduce soreness and assist with muscle recovery. Berries, turmeric, omegas, hemp, chia, and flax seeds are great anti-inflammatory boosters and all blend well into smoothies.
And one last thing to consider: What you ate the day before your workout matters too! If you under-ate on Monday, Tuesday’s workout will suffer.
What are your favourite pre- and post-workout meals? Let us know in the comments below!