For all you active souls (I'm hoping that means all of you!), knowing what to put inside of your body before & after is arguably more important than the actual workout or activity itself. Though I am a huge advocate of getting your sweat on or moving your body in some shape or form most days of the week, I do believe that in order to feel the best in your own skin, nutrition is so key. After all, I think we can all agree that refueling with refined sugar or fried foods probably won't feel that great in our stomachs after finishing a strenuous run, workout, or yoga class.
If you are putting all that effort into maintaining a physical activity regimen, let's replete our bodies properly to nourish our soul! Let's break down the basics here.
Things to consider when choosing what to consume before a workout:
- How long is the activity? (time spent exercising)
- How often do you workout? (normal routine)
- Have much have you had to eat throughout the day so far (or day before if it's an early morning workout)?
- When choosing foods, focus more on simple carbohydrates and/or a little protein, as they are more easily digested and won't cause any GI distress. This will give you a quick yet lasting boost of energy.
- Consume within 15-60 minutes before an exercise. Note how many meals you've had prior, along with the duration of the workout you're about to do, as this should dictate how much to consume. For instance, if it's first thing in the AM and you've gone all night fasting and are going for an 8 mile run, it's probably best to have a combination of both protein and carbohydrate before going. Conversely, if it's just a 2 miler or 20 min lifting sesh first thing in the AM, you likely could get away with a small piece of carbohydrate or even just some fluid as you wouldn't need much for that short of a workout. Same thing goes for afternoon or evening workouts.
- Food examples/combos:
- Apple or banana (alone) or with 1 Tbsp nut butter
- 1 rice cake (alone) or with 1 Tbsp nut butter
- protein shake made with almond milk, 1 scoop protein powder, and/or 1/2 frozen banana.
- 1/3-1/2 C. cooked oats
- When choosing what you consume after the workout, I really try to focus on the timing of my meals along with its composition.
- To refuel optimally, you want to have a healthy combination of carbohydrates for glucose restoration, protein for muscle replenishment, and fat for sustainable energy. This is exactly why eating a meal afterwords is such a clutch idea!
- Try to consume your meal within an hour after your workout to replete those hard-working cells as best as you can.
- Food Examples/meals:
- a well-rounded meal consisting of whole grains, greens, and protein of choice + little dose fat. One of my go-to meals in this fashion is 2 pasture raised eggs or tofu, along with sautéed greens, + 1 slice of Ezekiel toast with mashed avocado.
- Meal replacement shake made of 1 scoop protein powder, 1/2 frozen banana, almond milk, handful spinach, optional almond butter or avocado.
- Other meal combo ideas: sweet potato or brown rice, tofu/tempeh, greens of choice with olive oil; whole grain pasta, veggies of choice, organic veggie sausage; yogurt w/ fruit and whole grain granola.
Also, always remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Aim to have at least 8oz water before a workout, some during, and definitely replenish with more afterwords.
- As a general guide, each pound of body weight lost from sweat during a strenuous workout should be replenished with ~16-24oz of fluid afterwords. So, if ya lost 2 lbs from that long, sweaty run (which also means you are pretty darn dehydrated), better make sure you get at least 32-48 oz of good quality fluid + electrolytes in along with that recovery meal!
- Athletes who are working out more strenuously or for a longer time may also use coconut water or a natural electrolyte beverage to help replenish with natural sugars and electrolytes, which your muscles will surely thank you for.
And with all that, let's show our body a dose of gratitude for all that it's capable of :)