Updated: Jun 1, 2021
No matter what fitness level you are at, fueling your body properly prior to and after a workout is crucial for optimal performance and muscle recovery.
Whether you train hard every day, are just starting your own fitness journey, or are somewhere in the middle, learning to keep your body fueled properly will help you to reach your health + fitness goals.
Whether you are an avid gym goer, squeezing in a workout or even going on a walk for your lunch break - fueling your body prior to a workout is necessary to ensure that you perform at your best.
Prior to an intense workout, it is important to stick to slower digesting carbohydrates, lean protein with minimal fat. Some awesome examples of slower digesting carbohydrates are food that involves whole grains such as, whole grain/wheat bread, sweet potatoes, brown rice or rice pasta, whole wheat pasta, etc...
If you do choose to eat a small meal/snack, prior to working out, you can typically wait 30-90 minutes, so you don't feel bloated. But if choosing to eat a big meal, it is best to wait 90 minutes to workout. Always listen to your body and do what makes YOU feel good. Don't forget at the end of the day, it is about you and your body!
Eating slow digesting carbs will help to continue to fuel you throughout your workout as it will be digesting + continuing to give you energy as you exercise.
If you are an early morning workout person, you may opt to train fasted, which means you eat nothing before working out. The idea of eating at 5 in the morning is rough and usually you aren't that hungry, so usually you can opt for pre-workout fuel and adding a pre-workout chew/drink powder in your water is fine.
Bottom line, listen to your body. If you find yourself struggling during a workout then your body needs something prior to a workout. Your body is pretty magical + if you listen closely, it will tell you what you need.
Now that you just killed your workout, it is time to REFUEL. And the best way to do that is with quick digesting carbohydrates + optimal protein.
After working out, your glycogen stores (glycogen is what your muscle stores to use as energy) will likely be depleted + you will want to replenish them as soon as possible. Therefore you want to focus on simple, quick digesting carbohydrates.
Think fruit, as well as things like white potatoes, bread, cereal, or chocolate milk. Yes, chocolate milk does wonders especially for you runners.
You will also want to add 20-30 grams protein with your quick digesting carbs to help aid in muscle build and repair muscle. Even post workout we are keeping dietary fats low.
Your main goal after your workout, you will want to strive to eat within 30 minutes afterwards. This is optimal timing but within an hour is still beneficial. Protein shakes are the best source as they can be ready to go right after you finish your workout.
When you workout, you are pushing your body and challenging it, which is an awesome + an amazing feeling! Just remember that learning to treat your body well, before and after a workout, you will always see the most results from the time you are spending exercising.
Love your body and treat it well, and it will always return the favor.
Ashley Lambeth, ACE-CPT, OES, FNS, SCS | 919-614-2286 | Founder