You’re lifting weights, training for a marathon or cycling through spin class. Whatever your workout may be, your body needs fuel to pull through.
What you eat feeds you energy, heals your muscles and helps you get more out of your workout, according to experts. The key is what you eat before and after your gym session and when you time your meals.
“Being hungry or having food in your stomach can make it difficult to exercise … after exercise your nutrition goals are to get enough fluid, electrolytes, and energy to recover quickly, replace losses and restock the glycogen stored in your muscle. Drink plenty of water to replace fluids lost through sweat,” Christy Brissette, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition, told Global News.
“We want people to approach working out feeling good so they have a steady blood sugar. Muscles carry about 90 minutes of fuel so coming to a workout in a fed state and not a full state means arriving ready,” says Jennifer Sygo, a sports nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic Canada. She’s also a nutritionist for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
What to eat before a workout
What you should eat before a workout depends on how many hours ahead you’re having your meal. For most people, eating a full meal three to four hours before exercise or having a snack about one to two hours beforehand works best. Your best bet is to play around with mealtimes and portion sizes to see what works best for you.
The meal or snack has to come with three critical components:
Your pre-workout meal options:
What to eat after a workout
Post-workout, your body has a one-hour window to replenish its fuel. It’s most important to stock up on protein during this timeframe to build and repair your muscles.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a meal or a snack. It just needs to contain carbohydrates to put the carbs into the muscles you just burnt out and some protein to repair micro-tears in the muscles,” according to Jessop.
Here’s the post-workout meal criteria:
Your post-workout meal options:
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