Best Pre and Post Workout Meals for Optimal Performance
We all know that a healthy meal won’t just appear on our table after our workout. It is tempting to grab something quick or skip our post workout meal entirely if we are not prepared. Our experts have spoken – pre and post workout meals are an important component for an optimal fitness routine.
Learn what foods are good to have on hand and how you can be prepared ahead of time, making it easier to eat properly before and after your workout.
Lean Protein and Natural Carbs
I’m often asked about the best pre and post workout meals. In most cases lean protein and natural carbohydrates an hour before working out is the way to go. (For example, 3 eggs and a cup of berries) This will help fuel a sustained workout and avoid excessive muscle breakdown.
Afterwards I advise eating a meal comprised of protein, natural carbohydrates, and healthy fat within half an hour of the workout. The protein rebuilds muscles tissue and prevents soreness. The carbohydrates provide immediate energy and when combined with fat, sustained energy. The healthy fat (omega 3’s) helps with protein absorption. These fats also control blood sugar spikes by slowing the rate at which glucose from the carbohydrates is released into the blood stream.
Hydrate and Eat Smart!
There is no cookie-cutter approach to balancing your workout with proper nutrition – you must find what works best for you. Having said that, there are a few essential standards that should be included in all workout regimens.
Most importantly, you need to stay hydrated before, during, and after your workout. Consuming water is best, but if your workout typically lasts for more than one hour, you may want to switch to a sports drink, which fuels your body with carbohydrates and minerals, such as sodium. However, if you wish to limit your sugar intake, use a 50/50 mixture of fruit juice and water.
Exercising on an empty stomach is generally a bad idea. At least an hour before your workout, you should consume complex carbohydrates such as potatoes or brown rice, and combine them with lean protein foods, like nuts, eggs, ground sirloin, soy, or turkey. This gives your body time to digest the food, and allows you to burn fat, rather than just instantly burning off carbs.
After heavy workouts, simple carbohydrate intake is recommended within thirty minutes of completing your regimen. Such foods to consider include oatmeal cookies, almonds, beans, or some fruits, such as kiwi and watermelon. However, many foods high in simple carbs are also high in calories, so be careful to not overeat.
Finish off your day by eating a dinner high in protein, but low in carbohydrates. This will give your muscles what they need to grow and recover throughout the night. Prepare a meal that includes options such as meat, poultry, soy, fish or cheese.
Do you plan your meals around your workout? How do you plan ahead to make sure your post workout meal contains the proper nutrition?