If you’ve bypassed talking yourself out of going to the gym, good for you – that’s half the battle. But once you step on that cardio machine or hit that cycling class, the real challenge is finding fuel to go hard, even after your workout is done.
Like any well-oiled machine, your body needs good food before and after a workout to thrive so we’re here to offer you our top 5 things to eat before and after your workout – and what to avoid so that that sluggish energy will turn around and help you power forward.
According to a doctor from Harvard University (and contributing editor to Harvard Medical Journal), she notes that starting a breakfast high in fiber with healthy fats is easier to burn during a workout. She claims that the best breakfast is simple: “Fruits and vegetables, whole (unprocessed) grains, and healthy proteins and fats”. It’s important to incorporate different elements of a healthy, balanced diet in your morning. “This is not a trend, this is not a hippie opinion. The evidence is overwhelming,” she adds. What are some good ideas?
- Fruit Parfait (with yogurt and nuts): The mix of healthy fat from the nuts and the “low-sugar yogurt will leave us feeling more satisfied, for longer”
- Oatmeal: Carbs are good to burn fat and bring energy into the work out, pair with some organic peanut butter and fresh fruit will combine both energy, carbs, and healthy fat all in one meal
- Toast: With some avocado or nut butter, toast can bring healthy fat and carbs to your morning routine, added with a side a fruit
- A protein bar: added with a banana can be a great quick pre-workout breakfast for those who don’t have the time to make a fitspo insta-worthy breakfast
- Fruit and Vegetable smoothie: It’s no wonder that fitness coaches and supermodels drink their “green smoothie” every morning before their workout. Liquefied snacks can be easier for digestion for those who can’t stomach solid foods in the morning prior to their workout
Note: Remember the ideal time to eat is between 30 minutes to 3 hours before your workout. Try not to scarf down a protein bar 5 minutes before you have to do your 15 burpees warm-up. It’s also important to stay hydrated! You hear this all the time, but it’s so important. “The goal here is to minimize dehydration—which can cause low energy, and muscle cramps or spasms—without drinking too much water”, claims Self Magazine health contributor, Jessica Jones, MS, RD.
Now, what do I eat after I’ve killed my workout and feel like 100 bucks? As your body just endured all this pain and effort, it needs to quickly refuel. Therefore, it’s important to eat something quickly – preferably 30 minutes after. Jones, MS, RD also notes “You’ve blown through that glycogen and torn up your muscles. Therefore, your post-workout meal should be high in complex carbohydrates”
- Chocolate milk: I know right, what? Am I 5? According to Fitness Magazine, chocolate milk “has double the carbohydrate and protein content, perfect for replenishing tired muscles.” It’s also a nice, sweet treat after a strenuous workout.
- Vegetable Omelet: Eggs are a great source of protein and bridging that with some healthy, fresh vegetables can give you a filling boost.
- Hummus and Whole-Grain crackers: For those who are on a budget and need a quick to-go after working out, hummus is a great plant-based alternative, high in protein and fiber to give you a boost for the rest of the day
- Protein shake: What most athletes do is fill up their protein with a liquified snack – with special benefits to build muscle and refuel, a classic protein shake is a great option as well
- Baked Sweet Potato and Spinach: If you’re super hungry after your workout, and need something a bit more filling, try making baking your sweet potato with sauteed spinach. Full of fiber and healthy fats, this meal is perfect for a light dinner or mid-day meal.
Again, it’s important to hydrate and refuel your body. After incredibly strenuous workouts, be sure to take the time to drink water and eat.