Working out is important if you are looking to crush calories, rev your metabolism and tone your body, but what you eat for pre-workout fuel and a post-workout recharge is equally important. Choosing your food carefully makes all the difference in whether you succeed at reaching your fitness goals or fall behind.
Jessica Jones is a registered dietician who is ready to share her wisdom! Here are her 8 simple rules for eating good-for-you food that also benefits your fitness goals.
#1 Carbs are your friend
We have heard carbs being label as "bad" for so long but as a pre-workout snack they are essential. Carbohydrates equal energy, and energy keeps us going throughout our exercise routine.
"When we eat them, they break down into glucose, enter our muscle cells, and give us fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity." explains Jessica.
Without this glucose, you may feel tempted to throw in the towel due to how weak your body becomes. So fuel your muscles with healthy sources of carbs such as Greek yogurt, oatmeal, fruits and veggies, and whole grain toast.
#2 Give yourself a protein fix
Protein, like carbs, is vital to sparking energy within your system. Protein is highly recommended if you do weight training, as it prevents small tears from occurring in your muscle fibers. Avoiding injury is key when you're training, so if it can be done through your diet, that's even better! Eat plenty of nuts and seeds, eggs, soy milk and Greek yogurt for lean protein.
#3 Time it right
It is ideal to eat about 30 minutes before you hit the gym. However, this can be customized to your schedule. If you smash a workout early in the morning, it's not advisable to eat a huge meal beforehand. Try a nutritious snack like almonds, a granola bar or a quick slice of avocado toast. Smoothies are also wonderful pre-workout snacks that can be whipped up in a snap!
If you exercise later on the day (after work, let's say) and you don't have time for a meal, try a 100 to 150 calorie snack 30 minutes to one hour before your sweat session.
#4 Stay hydrated
Our lives revolve around water, and without it we could not survive. So it is very important to get enough every day and make sure you're drinking lots
pre and post workout. Determining if you're hydrated properly is as easy as looking at the colour of your pee first thing in the morning. The clearer it is, the more hydrated you are. If it's a darker yellow, you need to drink up!
"While there is no-one-size-fits-all method to determining fluid needs and exercise, a good place to start is drinking about 2 cups of water 2 to 3 hours before exercise and 1 cup of water 10 to 20 minutes before working out. The goal here is to minimize dehydration without overdoing it." says Jessica.
Don't forget to drink water while you workout as well. Keep a convenient water bottle on you at all times and take breaks to increase your fluid intake.
Pre-Workout Snacks and Meals
Smoothie: 1 cup of fruit, 2 cups of vegetables, Greek yogurt and water/milk.
Snack: Pear with 1 tablespoon of nut butter.
Snack: ¾ cup of Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon granola and ½ cup of berries
Snack: 2 tablespoons of dried fruit and 1 tablespoon of raw, unsalted nuts
Snack: 100-calorie granola bar
Snack: 1-2 rice cakes topped with 1 tablespoon of nut butter
Meal: Oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ cup of fruit
Meal: 4-ounces of baked salmon, ¾ cup of brown rice, with 1 cup of roasted veggies
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#1 Don't forget to eat
You must replenish the glycogen in your system that was depleted during your intense workout. You also have to feed your hungry muscles that need protein to recover and grow. Grab a snack within the first 20 minutes after your training session and opt for a fuller meal within the first 3 to 4 hours. Try quinoa, beans, tofu and fish to restore your muscles.
#2 Avoid a binge
It's so easy to become starved after you exercise and binge on sugary snacks, burgers and fries or anything within reach.
"That’s fine if you are trying to gain weight, but for folks who want to lose, this is counterproductive." explains Jessica.
The rule of thumb is to keep your snacks under 200 calories and skimp on processed foods altogether.
#3 Athletes require a boost of protein
If you're an athlete doing a workout between 40 and 90 minutes, you need
protein. Here's a customizable formula to follow. (This is for those completing intense resistance training only).
- Divide your weight by 2.2 to get kilograms
- Multiply that number by 0.4 and 0.5. to get a range of recommended protein intake
"If you weigh 130 pounds, divide that by 2.2 and you’ll get 59 kilograms. Then multiply that number by 0.4 and 0.5 to get a protein range. In this case, it’s 24 to 30 grams." says Jessica.
#4 Rehydrate immediately
We can not stress this enough! Drinking water right after your workout is so important to seeing real-life results.
"Start by weighing yourself before and after exercise and recording both numbers. After your workout, drink 16-ounces of fluid for every pound you’ve lost." recommends Jessica.
It is key to do what feels right for your body. So if you don't think this is the right amount of water, adjust it slightly until you feel you're getting enough. You can never drink too much water if your body feels like it needs the fluid!
Post-Workout Snacks and Meals
Snack: 1 cup of chocolate milk
Snack: 1 slice of whole wheat toast, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ sliced banana
Snack: 2 graham crackers and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack: 1 to 2 hardboiled eggs with a slice of whole wheat toast
Meal: 1, 7-inch round whole wheat pita stuffed with grilled veggies and 2 tablespoons hummus
Meal: A protein-rich green smoothie
Meal: Veggie omelet, avocado and ½ cup of roasted potatoes
Meal: 4-ounces of steamed trout, baked sweet potato and sautéed spinach
For more diet advice, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan
Share your workout tips and tricks with us! What helps you refuel after a workout?