One of the most common questions we receive from our coaching clients is, ‘What should I eat before and after a workout?’
Often the answer depends more on the athlete and the specific activity and level of intensity. However there are some common truths you can apply for pre-, during and post-workout nutrition, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned veteran.
Before a Work Out
Why eat? To provide enough energy to sustain your physical efforts during the training session.
What to eat? An easily digestible high-carbohydrate snack (with a little protein and fat) such as:
- Fresh fruit (banana, pineapple)
- Green smoothie
- Berry Chia jam on sprouted grain bread
- Dates with small amount of nut butter
When to eat? 30–60 minutes before exercising.
During a Work Out
Why eat? To replace sweat loss and avoid cramping, and to increase/maintain energy to minimize fatigue, protect muscle tissue from breaking down and decrease recovery time after training.
What to eat? Sip on clean (no artificial colors and refined sugars), electrolyte-rich beverages. The intensity of your workout determines whether you need mid-workout carbs. Examples include:
- Coconut water
- Chia water
- Sport gels that contain glucose and fructose (from dates and agave nectar)
When to eat? Every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise, or more, depending on variables like heat, humidity and the intensity of your workout.
Immediate Post-Workout Refuel
Why eat? To optimize the recovery of energy stores (glycogen), which is important for repairing muscle and maintaining a healthy immune system.
What to eat? Consume a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein, in a snack or beverage. Focus on high glycemic, glucose-rich carb sources such as:
- Smoothies with berries, banana, spinach, chia seeds and spirulina
- Nut butter with apple and banana slices
When to eat? Within 20 minutes after a workout.
1-3 Hours After a Workout
Why eat? To repair damaged tissues, form strong muscles and support long-term health and longevity.
What to eat? A high protein meal is needed several hours post-workout, not directly after. Eat a complete, nutrient-rich meal consisting of 25–50 grams of high-quality carbohydrates (squash, whole grains, pseudograins), 20-25 grams of easily digestible plant protein (such as hemp), plus omega-3 fatty acids (hemp seeds and flaxseeds), and vitamins and minerals from whole, natural food sources. Suggestions include:
- Large salad with plenty of dark leafy greens, high protein seeds, pseudo-grains and legumes
- Buddha Bowl
- High protein smoothie
When to eat? 1-3 hours post-workout
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