Fuel up right, your body will thank you after a good sweat session.
Before your workout
Are you one of those who exercises on an empty stomach? We’ve got news for you: Don’t! The body uses glucose for energy, so not eating before you work out can lead to low blood sugar level, resulting in fatigue and light-headedness. So load up on those carbohydrates to give your body the fuel it needs to get you through a gruelling workout (“Anaerobic vs Aerobic – Do you know the difference?”).
Before we look at some pre-workout foods, here are a few quick tips:
- The closer you are to your workout time, the simpler your meal should be.
- Make sure you eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein to give you the energy you need during your exercise.
- Wait for 45 minutes after you eat and before exercising to give your food time to digest. Otherwise undigested food will not be effective as fuel and will make you feel sluggish.
Let’s begin with…
Carbohydrates are your best friend when you are preparing for a workout. Bananas will give you the fuel you need with their rich carbohydrate content. Not only that, they are loaded with potassium which will help to maintain muscle and nerve functions.
If you are one of those who enjoys a good morning workout, have a medium banana 30 minutes before you start your exercise. Then have breakfast after. Your body will thank you for the nutrients it needs for your workout.
Find it to boring to only have a banana? Why not slice it up and pair it with…
For a combination of complex and simple carbohydrates, include wholegrain bread as one of your pre-workout snacks. Both types of carbohydrates are turned into glucose in the body, allowing your body to slowly release energy during your workout. Wholegrain bread also contains lots of fibre which helps to give a feeling of fullness. So grab some of these bread 45 minutes before you head out to exercise to give your body the energy it needs.
Greek Yogurt with fresh fruit
Good news for yogurt lovers! Guess what? This low-fat snack contains twice as much protein than regular yogurts and is easy on the stomach, giving your body the energy boost it needs to workout. Pair it with fruits that contain fast-digesting carbohydrates to kick start your workout. Try an orange!
Not so much of a yogurt fan? Add fruits to…
Oats are packed with fiber which gradually releases carbohydrates into your bloodstream. Your body will have a steady supply of energy during your workout. In addition, the protein in oats will fuel your body with energy and repairs muscles. Oats also contain B vitamins which help to maintain a healthy metabolism. Have some oatmeal at least 30 minutes before you begin exercising.
After your workout
Now that you have done the hard part, it’s time to reward yourself! Your body uses a lot of energy during a workout and glucose levels get low. Recovery of muscles begin, so be sure to replenish your body with protein and carbohydrates within an hour after exercising.
1. Eggs & avocados
Eggs for breakfast only? Says who! Eggs are a great source of protein and is a good post-workout meal to aid in faster recovery of muscle. Eat it whichever way you like –scrambled, sunny side up or simply hard-boiled. Serve your eggs up together with some avocados. The good monosaturated fats in avocados have been linked to reducing cholesterol levels. The fruit is also stocked with B vitamins which help your body maintain a healthy metabolism. Here’s a motivator to eat more avocados: Professional tennis star Novak Djokovic includes lots of avocados in his diet!
2. Salmon with sweet potato
Packed with lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can help rebuild your muscles after an intensive workout and fight off inflammation. Throw in some healthy sweet potatoes for a full evening meal. Sweet potatoes contain complex carbohydrates which will help to restore glycogen levels and aid in cell repair after a workout.
3. Chocolate Milk
Not only do you get to enjoy the flavour of this tasty snack, this calcium-packed drink also contains a blend of carbohydrates and protein required for muscle recovery. A study on 9 trained male cyclists suggested that chocolate milk is an effective post-exercise recovery aid. The water content will replace fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise as well.
Us National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health