Pre and Post Workout Nutrition
Food is Fuel
Let’s talk about fuel; specifically fueling our bodies. Just like a car runs on gas, we run on the food that we eat!
I get the question all the time; what do I eat after a workout? When do I eat before a workout? Do I need to drink/eat anything during my workout? Etc. etc. etc.
Let me preface this: EVERY BODY is different and everyone’s nutrition needs will vary depending on your routine, the type of exercise, the frequency, etc. but I will lay down the basics so that YOU know how to fuel your body properly and get the best ‘bang for your buck’ when working out.
Let’s talk about 5 tips to properly fuel for workouts:
1. Eat Before
Properly fueling before a workout is a must to give your body energy to do its best work! Always ask yourself when the last time you consumed any type of food. If it has been more than 3 hours since your last meal, eat a snack consisting of mostly carbohydrates within one hour of your workout.
*Tip: always keep a few snacks in your car/bag just in case!
Examples: whole grain toast with honey, piece of fruit, animal crackers, dried fruit, dry
cereal such as Cheerios
2. Eat During, if needed
Monitor your workouts or competition days. If you are constantly moving for more than an hour at a time, give that body some fuel! Just like a snack before, keep some high carbohydrate options on hand to snack on such as dried fruit, orange/apple slices, or applesauce. If you are running a race or cycling for more than 2 hours, make sure you get a carbohydrate source every 30 minutes after one hour to give your body the energy it needs to sustain itself.
*Tip: aim for those snacks that have high water content to make sure you are staying hydrated during your workout. A great example is fruit or applesauce.
Examples: Squeezable apple sauce pouches, prepackaged apple slices
3. Eat After
Consuming foods high in carbohydrate and protein after training help our muscles recover. A common myth is you just need protein. WRONG! Let’s break it down: when you exercise, your body utilizes the glycogen stored in your muscles and breaks it down into readily used energy. In order to replace that glycogen during the recovery phase, you need to consume glucose or sugar (aka carbs!) to aid the protein into your muscle cells to rebuild your muscle again. If you are eating a meal within 2 hours after a training session, you don’t need a post-workout treat. However, if not, try to consume something within an hour after training.
• Some great options are a piece of fruit and peanut butter, yogurt with granola or berries, chocolate milk, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, or trail mix.
4. Hydration is Key
Always make sure you have a water bottle handy! I encourage clients to splurge on a fancy bottle; The more you love your water bottle, the more you will use it (and not lose it!) Depending on the size of the bottle, aim to consume one bottle before, one bottle during, and one bottle after workouts to ensure proper hydration. Again, everyone’s needs vary but always aim for AT LEAST 64 ounces of water per day with a goal in ounces of at least half of your body weight in pounds.
• For example: a female weighing 140 pounds, needs 70oz. of water
5. Read the label!
There are so many supplements and products on the market these days so be weary and learn how to read a label. When reading the label, check out the ingredients. If you don’t know the ingredients, say ‘see ya later!’ A safe symbol to always look out for when purchasing supplements is “NSF Certified” which ensures it has been looked over by a third party company and certifying that all of the ingredients listed on the ingredients label are in the actual product.
Always remember that everyone’s body is different and what works for one person, might not work for another. If you have any specific questions about fueling for your personal workout routine, consult with a Registered Dietitian.
A little bit about the author: Jamison Worley is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in the Greater Nashville area with a background in sports, pediatrics, and eating disorders. She offers one on one nutrition counseling as well as group education classes, team sport presentations, and grocery store tours. If you would like to contact Jamison, please visit her website at www.jamisonworleyrdn.com!