First, I want to say that this blog is basic- I feel each person is unique and this is very individualized!
As a general rule, you want to eat about half the calories you expect to burn during your upcoming workout. Eat 1 ½ to 2 hours pre-workout, and your meal should consist of:
• GOOD carbs
• CLEAN, LEAN protein
• HEALTHY fat
• Note that the percentages vary based on your size and goals.
Good carbs fuel muscles and enable peak performance. They also keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable during your workout. Clean lean protein prevents the breakdown of muscle for fuel, and gives your muscles a head start on recovery after exercising.
Healthy fats help balance blood sugar and ensure that fat-soluble vitamins are delivered to your cells so your body can use them. Healthy fats also keep your joints lubricated and they slow digestion, allowing for sustained energy and longer workouts.
For Morning Exercisers, here are some examples of a pre-workout breakfast:
• Oatmeal (with no added sugar) topped with walnuts, berries and half a banana
• A protein shake (see recipe)
• Ezekial bread (toasted) with pure almond butter and one sliced fruit (banana, apple, strawberries, etc.)
For Afternoon or Evening Exercisers, here are some examples of a pre-workout lunch:
• Steamed vegetables with quinoa
• Brown rice with lean protein and vegetables
• Soup and salad
A balanced meal one to two hours before your workout might be all you need. But some people need a small snack about 30-45 minutes before a workout for an ENERGY BOOST. Snack examples include: a banana, a Smoothie (see recipe); a Larabar or Power Bites (see recipe) or other all-natural bar. You want clean, fast-digesting carbohydrates, little protein, very little fat, so the fuel is available during your workout. And all meals and snacks should be accompanied by water.
• If you work out first thing in the morning, you will want to have your snack before your workout and your breakfast meal after.
• The larger the meal/snack, or the more fat and protein it contains, the longer you will need to properly digest before exercising. If you consume too much food, or food high in fat, your muscles will focus on digesting that food instead of on your workout. That can cause stomach upset, muscle cramping and deplete your energy.
What to Eat POST-Workout After your workout is a time for your muscles to rebuild, repair and recover. You should refuel within 15-60 minutes of your workout, and your post-workout snack should have more protein than carbs if you are strength training, and more carbs than protein for cardio exercise.
In the same way that I don’t recommend Gatorade’s ingredients, I steer clear of protein drinks such as Muscle Milk, Boost or Detour. Read the label and you’ll find sugar, additives and chemicals – not what you want to put in your healthy body! Instead, have a post-workout smoothie with plant protein (see recipe).
If you take the time to prepare for your workout – beginning with water in the morning and eating consciously throughout the day – you’ll find that you have the energy to exercise better and longer, and that helps you reach your goals!
Are you a morning, afternoon or evening exerciser?