Go hard or go home! When you’re amped for an insane, calorie burning, body sculpting, sweat-session, fueling up is key to pushing past your comfort zone. If you have ever hit the gym on an empty stomach only to find yourself clinging to the stair stepper control panel in exhaustion, you know what I mean! The mind and body don’t stand a chance without proper nutrition. And just as you want to stoke your internal fire before a workout, replenishing the nutrients depleted after is essential to ultimate muscle recovery.
Here’s a breakdown of what to eat before and after an epic workout:
What you need: The best fuel for an intense workout should include “slow burning” complex carbs. Fruits, veggies, whole grain bread, rice, pasta, and cereals all fit the bill. Complex carbs take longer to convert to glucose which keeps your blood sugar stable for longer periods of time. Say bye bye to energy slumps in the middle of your routine! Try to stick to meals or snacks that are made of 65-70% complex carbs and 15% protein.
Be sure to allow for proper digestion as well. Large meals take a few hours to digest, so downing a huge burrito an hour before a run means the body is working double duty to digest and move. Not fun for your tummy! A 300 calorie snack or less within an hour of your gym session should do the trick.
Prime examples: Almonds, oatmeal, yogurt, and fruits like the mighty banana.
What you need: A recovery snack helps the body rebuild what was depleted during intense training. Athletes who hit the gym everyday or compete regularly need to restore the body’s depleted glycogen (the carbohydrate that is stored in the muscles and liver). Skipping a post snack limits recovery and can inhibit your performance next time you pick up the weights or head out for that 10 mile run.
Seek out snacks that harbor the ideal 4:1 ratio of carbs and protein. Limit sugary, high calorie options. Again under 300 calories is sufficient for most people. Munching right after a workout is also the most beneficial for muscle growth and repair as opposed to an hour or two later.
Prime examples: Low-fat granola or cereal like GoLean from Kashi, a Clif Bar, wheat toast topped with a tbsp of peanut butter, or a fruit smoothie with yogurt/soy milk.
Final Note: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after any epic workout!
What’s your favorite energizing snack? The more options the better. I definitely get sick of those damn protein shakes. Add your two cents in the comments.