The answer to "What should I eat before my workout?" isn't tough, but there are multiple answers. Are you working out in the middle of the morning, a couple hours after you've had breakfast? Or are you exercising at 6am? Will you be hitting the gym after work? Or do you have a late evening group fitness class you like to take well after dinner?
Sticking with the basics, here are a few suggestions for what you should (and shouldn't) eat before and after your workout that will help keep you energized and ready-to-go.
1 - 2 Eggs + 1/2 Sprouted English Muffin (like Ezekiel)
Eggs are good for you. They're a great sources of protein and choline. Athletes and vegetarians tend to run low on choline, a nutrient that helps protect against muscular damage.
When to eat?
- 2 Hours Before a Workout: If you're not working out for a couple hours, 2 eggs and a little bit of complex carbohydrate (like sprouted muffins) should be out of your stomach by the time you exercise. You do NOT want the belly topped up when you workout. You'll feel sluggish and uncomfortable.
- Immediately After a Workout: If you've just finished working out, and your exertion level was moderate to heavy, eating good sources of protein within 45 minutes, like eggs, immediately after exercising can help reload your muscles, making you stronger for the next workout. **Note: if you happen to be lifting a lot of weight, your window for getting in the protein is smaller. The harder you workout, the sooner you'll need your protein.
What NOT to eat?
- Egg Whites (only) + White Toast
Absolutely all the benefits of choline helping your muscles vanishes when you eat egg whites only. Choline is present in the yolk. White bread is 100% worthless in my book. It is a dead food that happens to have one hundred or so calories going along for the ride (which will likely end up around your tush or stomach).
Grilled Chicken Salad with Fresh Veggies
Leafy greens and lean protein make a great combo. They're healthy, fairy light and can make a great meal as long as you don't load it up with tons of bottled salad dressing (shoot for vinegar and olive oil), heavy cheeses and nutrient void-croutons.
When to eat?
- 3 - 5 Hours Before a Workout: If your workout consists of a run, lean toward the five hour mark (maybe four). Salads are roughage and spend a lot of time in digestive transit (usually a good thing). If you're doing just about anything other than running, you should be able to comfortably exercise within three hours.
- 30 Minutes to 1 Hour After a Workout: Salads are a great source of complex, nutrient-dense carbohydrates, and chicken is another excellent source of protein. Your body will need more nutrients and protein after a workout.
What NOT to Eat?
- Breaded Chicken Salad (with or without veggies)+ Bottled Salad Dressing
Old Fashioned Oats + Nut Butter + CinnamonWhy?
To be fair, there are a thousand healthy ways to make oatmeal with old fashioned oats. You could add protein powder, flax seeds, milk, blueberries, almonds, walnuts, etc., etc. The reason I'm using oatmeal as an example is because (when its in whole form) oatmeal is a decent carbohydrate to eat before a workout. But carbs like this are not enough as they're usually very low in fat and protein, so they need to be paired with something else (like a nut butter) to help keep your blood sugar levels stable, making you feel fuller longer.
When to eat?
- 3 Hours Before a Workout: If you eat this before your workout, give enough breathing room between the meal and your exercise.
- 30 Minutes to 1 Hour After a Workout: You may want to add more protein and ease off the amount of oatmeal you consume if eating this post-workout? Your body needs energy, but probably in the form of protein.
What NOT to eat?
- Instant Oats (like a little package of Maple & Brown Sugar) with water and nothing else
Wait, don’t leave yet! If you’re not joining me on Facebook yet, now’s a great time. There’s a lot more information on nutrition, diet and exercise. I love talking with my fans and enjoy putting together fitness plans and body-specific meal plans…just for them! If you have any questions or comments, just let me know.