The truth is, unless you are an athlete and/or training for an event, you don’t need to use special workout nutrition strategies. However, if you are a serious exerciser, there are certain tools you can use to fuel your workouts and recover properly.
Your actual nutritional needs will vary by goal, body type, and workout duration. Even the timing of your snack will impact what you should eat for appropriate nutrition. You see, muscles need energy to function efficiently and if they don’t have nutrients readily available to use for energy, your body will start to convert muscle tissue into glucose to provide the energy you need to get through your workout. That is not good when you’re trying to lose weight OR make gains! The best pre-workout snacks include protein and carbohydrates. Whatever you reach for, make sure it is easily digested and provides your body with a quick boost of energy. Examples of solid pre-workout snacks include:
Smoothie (a delicious recipe might look like 1 scoop of chocolate protein, 1 fist of veggies, 1-2 cupped handfuls of berries, 1 tbsp of nut butter, and a low calorie liquid like almond milk)
Banana w/ 1 tbsp of peanut butter (or any nut butter)
Greek yogurt w/ berries and nuts/seeds
Apple and 1 tbsp of nut butter
Oatmeal w/ fruit (only ¼ cup)
Whole wheat toast w/ nut butter and sliced banana (half)
Post-workout nutrition is just as important as your pre-workout snack. The reason? During exercise, your body is breaking down muscle and depleting glycogen stores that your body uses as energy stores. During this time it is essential to replenish the body with protein and carbohydrates. An appropriate amount of time between the end of your workout and eating is about 30-90 minutes. However, this window of time is context dependent. If you fasted before your workout, you’re going to want to head straight for the fridge! But if you have eaten a normal sized meal a couple of hours prior to working out, you will be just fine as long as you eat within 2 hours. Here are a few tasty ideas:
Veggie omelet (1 whole egg and 2-3 egg whites)
Lean protein and a complex card (chicken breast, sweet potato, and veggie)
Whole wheat toast, tuna and hummus
Whole wheat toast (or rice cakes) with one serving of nut butter
If you are going to take time out of your day to exercise, you might as well make the most out of your time. Bottom line, pay attention to what you are putting into your body. Food is the fuel that allows us to be and do our best. If you have any questions or want more guidance on nutrition, I’m here for you!