Written by: Elsie Velazqeuz Cert. Personal Trainer at Prescription Fitness
So, you have finally figured out a workout routine that works for you and you’ve been consistent with it. You see changes and you are very excited about it, as you should be. However, you feel that your progress is slowing down. You decide that you are going to increase the intensity of your workouts and that you will add a bit more cardio time. A few months pass and you are still not seeing the results you’d like to see. In fact, you are now feeling sluggish and have a hard time getting through your workouts. The answer can be as simple as looking at your pre and post workout nutrition.
What you put into your body is fuel for your workout as well as how you manage muscle on your body. Food can help you to recover in a better way and help you build muscle or lean yourself out. What you eat before and after your workout is extremely important. There are many different ways to give your body the right amount of fats, carbohydrates and protein that is going to not only satisfy your hunger but provide fuel for your workouts. Your body needs certain foods to sustain itself and to thrive. While exercise is very important, it is equally important to have good nutrition – it is really hard to have one without the other.
Before you decide what pre and post workout foods will work best for you, it is a good idea to have a clear goal in mind. Having the right diet is 80% of the battle! Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 3 hours pre-workout, depending on how your body tolerates food. Experiment and see what time frame works best for your body.
It is important to know that the point behind a pre–workout meal is to raise the amino acid levels in your blood during the workout which promotes both muscle protein synthesis and inhibits muscle protein breakdown. The point behind the post-workout meal is to replenish muscle glycogen that was depleted during your workout, reduce muscle protein breakdown caused by your workout and to increase muscle protein synthesis. It is advised to include protein as well as carbs in your pre-workout and post-workout meal.
Here are suggestions for a pre-workout snack/meal:
- A peanut butter and banana or PBJ sandwich
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Apple and peanut or almond butter
- 1-2 rice cakes topped with 1 tablespoon of nut butter
- Oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ cup of fruit
- (meal) 4-ounces of baked salmon, ¾ cup of brown rice, with 1 cup of roasted veggies
Because your body uses stored energy (glycogen) in your muscles to get through the workout, you need to replenish the nutrients lost. As soon as possible post workout, get carbs and protein into your body. This will replenish the glycogen and helps your muscles rebuild and repair with the available protein and amino acids. Try to eat within 15 minutes of completing an intense workout.
Here are suggestions for a post-workout snack/meal:
- Post-workout recovery smoothie (or post-workout smoothie made with low-fat milk and fruit)
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Yogurt with berries.
- 1 to 2 hardboiled eggs with a slice of whole wheat toast
- 7-inch round whole wheat pita stuffed with grilled veggies and 2 tablespoons hummus
- Turkey on a whole-grain wrap with veggies
- Meal: A protein-rich smoothie
- Meal: Veggie omelet with avocado and ½ cup of roasted potatoes
- Meal: 4-ounces of chicken/fish with a baked sweet potato and sautéed spinach