One of the biggest questions I get from my clients is “What should you eat before and after my workout to get the most benefit from the workout”?
I always base my recommendations on cutting edge science.
When I speak about a Workout I mean a cardio activity that takes your heart rate above 70% of your maximum for at least 30 minutes or more( powerwalking, running, swimming, biking, aerobic dance/Zumba-not just a walk through the mall), or a strength/interval activity that takes your heart rate between 70-85% for short bursts ( ie. weight training, Tabata, HIIT etc. )
What to Eat Before a Workout
You need energy, of course, for a workout. I have noticed that some of my clients say they can work out well in the morning on an empty stomach. They go into the gym and maintain steady energy throughout their workout but then find they crash.. This is because we have some glycogen stored in our muscles after waking up but not enough to sustain a full workout. If you think about the word ‘breakfast’ you will realize it means “break fast”. Yes, most people have not eaten for 1—12 hours which puts you into a fasting state. It is important to have a small meal– say, a balanced shake or smoothie with 50 % low Glycemic Carbs,30% lean protein and 20% essential fatty acids – rather than try to go full-out after 12 hours of fasting. A cup of Java is also a great way to increase you energy as long as it is accompanied by a balanced mini meal. Try coffee on its own without a balanced meal and your blood sugar will spike and drop in 30 minutes, leaving you shaky and weak before your workout-not good!
What if you workout after work?
If you work out later in the day after work, I recommend working out two to three hours after a balanced meal or one hour after a snack of protein and low glycemic carbs/essential fatty acids (ie. An apple and some almonds or a properly balanced Nutrition Bar.
What you don’t want to do is eat a big meal or a high-fat snack immediately before you workout. After a big meal so much of your bodies energy goes into digesting it. Give your body adequate time to digest food so it can optimally fuel your muscles while you work out. Another option to increase your energy without a blood sugar spike/drop is using an energy drink called Rev 3, either in the pouch or can. This unique and healthy energy drink will give you 4 hours of sustained energy with no blood spikes and no sugar-just healthy teas and herbs/vitamins You can order it HERE.
What to eat after a Workout?
I discussed exercise intensity earlier for a reason: an all-out workout burns a lot of glycogen (sugar). I know, I know . . . You want to burn fat, not sugar. Well, let me carry on.
Vigorous exercise burns more sugar while actually exercising but more fat and calories overall. HIIT, Tabata, total body conditioning, Strength Training along with Spinning , Zumba training and other full on exercise require more post-workout recovery than say power walking, optimizing fat burning as part of the process.
After your workout your body needs to refuel the energy stored in your muscles (glycogen) as soon as possible. Muscle repair, also known demands carbohydrates to refuel your muscle’s energy stores and protein to help your muscles rebuild and recover.
There is actually a “nutritional window”: that first 30-60 minutes after your workout where your body is needing of refueling your muscle stores.
You want to fuel precisely during that 30-60 minutes. This is especially critical as a preparation for your next workout., How you nutriate after your current workout will determine available energy for your next workout.
Essentially, then, your post-workout fuel – protein, essential fatty acids and low glycemic carbohydrates – will replace and refuel what your body possessed before your workout.
Make sure you refuel with low Glycemic index carbohydrates and avoid at all costs high glucose corn syrup.
What Should You Eat before and after your Workout? Here’s my favourite fuel!
My favorite post-workout meal is from a new Active Nutrition line that Dr. Oz just highlighted. It’s called Nutrimeal & it can be blended with low-sugar fruit (berries blend is perfect) and unsweetened almond or coconut milk. If you have a post-workout meal, combine clean lean protein, slow-release high-fiber carbs, and healthy fats. Why I like Nutrimeal is that it combines all of these in a simple shake formula. This is what our Canadian and American Olympic athletes use and if it is good enough for them it should be an awesome formula for you!