If regular exercise is part of your weekly routine, you are already ahead on the journey to optimal health.
Want to get more out of your workout? Think carefully about what you eat before and after you hit the gym, jump into a Zumba class or go for your daily run.
Everyone will have different preferences when it comes to fueling up or replenishing, but Holiday Zanetti, a senior research scientist and clinical investigator for Nutrilite™, said there some key things to remember in order to maximize your results.
Hydrate – before, during and after
Regardless of what you eat, hydration is crucial. Water is the best option for workouts under an hour, Zanetti said.
“But if you’re pushing yourself for more than an hour, consider a sports drink to help your body maintain electrolyte balance.”
If sports drinks don’t agree with you during intense exercise, try diluting it with water to lessen the negative effects, she said.
Early morning workouts
Do you check your workout off first thing in the morning? Then a light snack ahead of time might be all you need – or all your body can handle.
“Stick to energy-yielding carbohydrates, muscle-repairing protein, and low fiber,” Zanetti said. “Fiber takes time to digest and can cause cramping, so save it for later.”
Fueling up with a small snack will help prevent dizziness and fatigue that can result from low blood sugar, she said.
“A 100-to-200-calorie snack is a good starting point,” Zanetti said, like a banana, small bowl of cereal with milk, nut butter on toast, avocado toast, cheese crackers or a granola bar.
If your stomach can’t handle food that early, a quick workout – under 45 minutes – might be a better option on an empty stomach, she said.
Don’t eat too much too close to your workout
This can create havoc for your workout, Zanetti said, like cramping, other gastrointestinal stress, becoming unfocused or just dragging. Here are some guidelines:
- Large meals: Eat at least three to four hours before working out.
- Small meals: Eat two to three hours before working out.
- Small snacks: Eat about one hour before working out.
Fueling up after a workout
After you exercise, Zanetti recommends eating a meal or snack within a 20 minute window of your workout.
“It should include both protein for muscle repair and growth and carbohydrates to replenish your body’s stored energy,” she said.
Some good options include a meal replacement shake, a smoothie made with protein powder, Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, cheese and crackers, a nut butter sandwich or vegetables with brown rice or whole grain pasta with vegetables.