Trainers get asked about food a lot. Usually, the questions really center on dieting and making healthy choices, but recently, the subject of what to eat pre and post workout came up. It was such a great question, we wanted to share the answer with all our FIT friends. Keep in mind, these recommendations are for hard, hour-long (plus) workouts. If you hit the treadmill at a steady pace for 2-3 miles, you really don’t need anything special to help you get through, or recover. Also, water is key! Drink before, during, and after.
Best for Pre-Work-Out
The body works to build muscle and recover 24 hours a day, not just during that one-hour session at the gym. Luckily, smartly timed snacks can give the body the fuel it needs to gain muscle, burn fat, and recover as best it can. Pre-workout, that usually means grabbing a snack about 30 to 60 minutes in advance.
1. Whole-Wheat Toast (remember to look at the ingredients. You want to make sure you recognize all of the ingredients!! Fresh baked breads are always the best choice) with Bananas and Cinnamon: Carbs are key to fueling your workout. Ideally you want a mixed bag of complex and simple ones so that the release of energy during your workout is slow and steady. Whole-wheat toast with fruit gives you both types of carbs with the bonus of being super easy to digest. Complex carbs will keep your motor humming, while the fruit adds an extra kick of energy. For those training for a race, bananas are perfect in raising potassium levels, which drop when you sweat a lot. For an added bonus, add a dash of cinnamon. The spice has been linked to stabilizing blood sugar and improving brain function.
2. Pistachios and Raisins: About a quarter-cup of any dry-roasted nut provides just the right amount of protein and good-for-you fats. Pistachios are a particularly good nut choice because they’re richer in potassium, an electrolyte that you lose through sweat. Pair them with the quick-burning fuel of raisins—according to a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the naturally occurring carbohydrates in raisins make them a good alternative to pricier sugary sports candies and gels. Dates and other dried fruits are good. Choose no-sugar added and unsulfured.
3. Homemade Smoothies: Try Greek Yogurt, Spinach, Cinnamon, Ginger, Banana, and Flax with a little water and ice. Carbs, protein, fiber, and ginger to help with digestion. Can’t be beat!
4. Pears or Apples and Sunflower Butter or Peanut Butter: Pears are easily portable and provide carbs along with water for hydration. Apples contain hunger-fighting fiber and pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Just make sure you eat the peels too: A recent study in theJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found more free-radical fighting polyphenols concentrated there than in the flesh (choose organic apples to avoid pesticides). If you have a peanut allergy, sub in sunflower butter; like peanut butter, it contains vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help reduce muscle damage from exercise.
5. Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit: Oatmeal sticks with you throughout your workout by gradually releasing sugar into your bloodstream. Adding fruit to your bowl will help increase the fluid content of your pre-workout snack, keeping you hydrated. With fruit also means you don’t need to add sugar!
Best for Post-Work-Out
1. Grilled Chicken and Mixed Vegetables: This is really a meal, not a snack, but your body is in recovery mode, so you need a nutrient dense dish. The lean protein and carbohydrates in chicken will fill you up without feeling overly bloated. Add some veggies in olive oil to keep your ticker in tip top shape.
2. 2-Egg Veggie Omelet with 1/4 an Avocado or 2 Hard-Boiled Eggs with 1/4 an Avocado: Eggs are a great source of protein and help aid in muscle recovery and growth. Garnish with a few slices of avocado for fiber and mono-saturated fats (the good kind!). Similar to olive oil, avocados can help your body better absorb fat solublenutrients that your veggies have like vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are stocked with antioxidants, the best boost for your body, inside and out.