Did you know that what you eat both before and after your workout is just as important to your fitness regimen as what you eat any other time of the day? Before your workout, your body needs the right kind of fuel to operate at its peak efficiency. Afterwards, you need foods that will help your muscles to recover. Give your body the right nutrition in both circumstances and you’ll see the results of your efforts soar to the next level. Deny your body these key components and you’ll stay stuck in plateau mode.
Getting Ready to Groove: Pre-Workout Power-Up
There are three basic rules to pre-workout fitness:
- Load up on low-fat carbs to give your body a surge of energy.
- Drink plenty of water in the 2-3 hours leading up to a workout and about 10 ounces more 10 minutes before starting.
- The closer the time is for your workout, the smaller your meal or snack should be.
That means that if you plan to workout 3 hours after lunch, then a grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread and a light salad would make an excellent lunch. It will give you everything you need for a regular meal while providing sustainable energy as the meal digests. However, if you plan on working out as soon as you get out of the office, then grab a nice fruit salad or a cup of yogurt 60 to 90 minutes before to hit the gym. In both instances, you need to bring a water bottle or two.
Just because you’ve completed your workout doesn’t mean your fitness routine is finished. What you put in your body immediately following a workout is as important as what you give it before the workout. Here are the post-workout rules:
- Replace some of the carbs your body has depleted, but don’t give it too much.
- Pack in the protein to aid in muscle repair.
- Rehydrate as soon as possible. For better or worse, if you are working out hard, you’re going to sweat! You must replace those lost fluids.
As quickly as you can after a workout, help yourself to a sports drink or fruit juice. This will provide your body with some fast acting carbs and hydration. About 30 minutes post-workout, but no longer than 90 minutes, have your post-workout meal. Some people like to use a fast acting protein such as a whey protein shake because it is easy to get down quickly and delivers the protein faster than solid food can. If that doesn’t work for you, then you’ll want to eat something like chicken, brown rice, or fish.
This 90-minute window of opportunity immediately after your workout is what will determine how effective your workout is. You can eat more without worrying about storing fat, since all of that nutrition will go straight to your muscles. Just be sensible about it and stay away from high-fat foods. Not only are they not ideal for muscle restoration, they are bad for your overall health. Fresh, lean, and healthy nutrition both pre and post workout is your key to the ultimate fitness program.