Moving your body in fun and challenging ways is SO important. Aside from the physical health benefits (like living longer, less prone to disease, etc), exercising also contributes to a happier YOU.
When I move my body, I feel my absolute best. And, I feel even better when I am fueling my body with amazing foods before and after my workout.
If you’re wondering what you should snack on before you hit the gym, or what to throw in your bag to nibble on after a sweat sesh, this post is for you! I’m sharing what you should do before and after a workout to fuel and re-fuel your body.
BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT
1. Eat a combination of carbs + protein
We have been taught to FEAR THE CARBS. Carbs are bad, carbs make us gain weight, carbs make us gain belly fat.
I’m here to call BS on this.
Carbs equal energy, and we need energy to help fuel us through our workouts. And when we eat them, they break down into glucose and enter our muscles so we can push our bodies and gain strength.
Before a workout, you’ll want to eat a combination of simple carbohydrates and protein. Simple carbohydrates are digested fast than complex carbohydrates, which allows our body to access the energy quicker.
Some ideas for pre-workout snacks include:
- Piece of whole grain bread topped with almond butter/peanut butter
- Fruit (like an apple or banana) + nut butter
- Oatmeal topped with almond milk + berries
- A rice cake + nut butter
- Handful of nuts + dried fruit
- Green smoothie
2. Drink up!
I know, I know, drinking water before a workout may seem like ‘duh Meagan, but this is often something people forget to do! Hydrating before a workout is SO so important.
On days that you plan to exercise, make an effort to drink water throughout the day. I always keep a water bottle on hand so that I’ll drink up all day long.
THIS is my favorite water bottle!
Also bring that water bottle with you when you’re at the gym to replenish the fluids that you’re sweating out!
3. Get the timing right
Most experts recommend that you eat anywhere between 30 minutes to 3 hours before your workout.
I encourage you to play with this and see how YOUR body feels. If you had a large lunch and are planning to workout in the afternoon, see how your workout goes without eating anything. Or if you’re working out late in the evening, try eating a small snack an hour or so before hitting the gym.
Same goes with working out in the morning. Some can stomach a small snack, whereas others do better on an empty stomach. See what works for you.
4. Listen to your body + adjust
Here’s the thing: every one is different, and there are no hard and fast guidelines that work for everyone. I encourage you to see how your body feels before a workout and see what foods and timing work best for you.
AFTER YOUR WORKOUT
1. Refuel your body
After your workout, you’ll want to eat a combination of complex carbohydrates + protein right away (within 30 minutes of an intense session).
The combination of carbohydrates and protein will help to repair your muscles from your exercise sesh. This is especially important when you are weight training (AKA pumping iron) or exercising for a long period of time.
Broken record alert: see what works well for you.
Here are some ideas of post-workout snacks:
- Piece of whole grain toast + nut butter
- Fish/tofu/beans + quinoa/brown rice
- Scrambled eggs + piece of whole grain toast or oats
- Chicken + quinoa/brown rice + green veggies
- Chocolate milk (some people swear by this — I have never tried it)
- Protein bar (I encourage you to eat real food as much as possible, but sometimes a protein bar is what you need. Look at the ingredient list — there are a lot of crap filled ones out there. My absolute favorites are: Perfect Bar, Square Organics and GoMacro.
- Green smoothie (with greens + fruit + protein)
2. Drink up, again!
Rehydration after a workout is supa-de-dupa important. Drink water after your workout and continue sipping on water throughout the day to fully rehydrate your body.
What are your favorite pre- and post-workout snacks/meals? I want to know! Post them in the comments below 🙂