If you’ve ever worked out on a stomach full of pizza, you know from experience that what you eat can make or break a workout.
Effective workouts demand proper nutrition. Food and WATER fuel our bodies; so it’s important to ‘fuel up’ before working out and to ‘refuel’ afterwards. If you’re looking for more energetic workouts + would like faster results, listen up!
Contrary to popular belief, going to the gym hungry will NOT help you burn more fat. Training on an empty stomach starves your muscles of glycogen (energy source) making you tire out more quickly (It is OK to go on an empty stomach if you’re exercising super early in the morning). That being said, keep in mind that eating for a marathon is WAY different than eating for an hour session at the gym. For gym workouts you want your pre + post workout meal to be around 100-200 calories. You don’t want to negate the effects of the workout by overeating.
Before your sweat session grab a snack consisting of simple carbs and a protein about 30 minutes before you start. This is the best combo as you want every gram you consume to be utilized as an immediate fuel source for energy. For cardio-focused routines, emphasize more carbs than protein as carbs give you energy you need to power through an intense workout. As for strength training workouts, emphasize slightly more protein than carbs as our bodies require a ready supply of protein for muscle tissue repair.
Try to avoid foods high in fat and anything spicy before workouts to keep sluggishness and cramping at bay. Also, refrain from eating foods high in refined sugar as it will spike your blood sugar levels and cause a crash right in the middle of your workout. Some days call for an extra boost to get yourself off the couch. Occasional use of an all natural pre-workout energizer is OK to use, but whole foods are best to energize us since they contain complete nutrition our bodies need. A pre-workout energizer I like is Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer. If you want to keep it 100% natural, try keeping a little peppermint essential oil in your gym bag and take a whiff to shock your senses and come to life.
Pre-workout Snack Options:
- Sliced apple with 1 tbsp almond butter and 1 hard boiled egg.
- Small bowl of oatmeal with berries and walnuts or almond slivers.
- RX Bar
- Blueberry spinach smoothie with almond or coconut milk
Hydration is the most important part of refueling as a significant amount is lost during exercise. Pure water is best for the average exerciser; however, intense workouts call for replenishment of electrolytes. I recommend coconut water over sports drinks which contain large amounts of sugars and chemicals.
It is important to eat a post workout snack within 15-20 minutes of exercise completion to aid in faster recovery. Your body utilizes the post workout meal to restore used up glycogen stores and rebuild damaged muscle fibers. Protein helps repair muscles while carbohydrates to replenish energy stores. Choose a snack with protein and carbohydrates and you can also prevent muscle soreness.
Post-workout Snack Options:
- Protein shake (choose a clean protein powder, 1/2 frozen banana, almond or coconut milk)
- Plain greek yogurt with 1/2 banana and chopped nuts
- 1/2 c hummus with 3-5 multi grain crackers and bell pepper slices
- 1 slice of ezekiel toast and 2 scrambled eggs (use 1 whole egg + 1 egg white)
So if you want to maximize your workout to burn more calories, build muscles quicker, and have more energy for your training session, it’s time to eat your way to a better workout!