MASS CONFUSION - What to eat before and after working out

As you may have already experienced, aerial fitness training and conditioning is hard on your body...but in a good way. It makes us stronger, more flexible, and extremely conditioned. However if we don't feed our bodies correctly, all of that hard work can go to waste. If you don't have a plan as to what you're eating before and after your workouts, you're truly doing your body a disservice! Trust me, you will reach your health & fitness goals so much quicker if you’re eating the right foods before and after exercising. Here are a few rules and tips on how to get the most out of your workouts through proper diet and nutrition... 

RULE #1: Don’t starve yourself!

If you don’t eat enough calories before a workout you will not have the stamina or energy to work to your fullest potential. Pretty much, if you don’t feed your body the sufficient amount of calories and nutrients before you workout your body won’t be able to burn as many calories because it’s trying to store them! Consistently starving your body before workouts will ultimately cause you to lose muscle because your body will be breaking down your muscles instead of utilizing stored calories and fat. AFTER your workout, if you don’t consume enough, or the right foods, your muscles will not be able to fully recover and you won’t get the best results possible for your physique. The sooner you eat after your workout, the sooner your body can refuel and the better off you’ll be (20-60 minutes).

RULE #2: Don’t eat TOO many proteins and fats before you workout. (That doesn’t mean you can’t have any, calm down)

Both fat and protein take a longer time for your body to digest, which will make you more prone to stomachaches during exercise. The rule of thumb is don’t eat a protein-heavy or fat-heavy meal prior to your workout.

RULE #3: Don’t eat too much too soon before you workout.

It is ideal to eat a 300-500 calorie meal 2 hours before your workout. If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, shoot for a 50-100 calorie snack 5-10 minutes before your workout.

RULE #4: Don’t wait too long after your workout to eat.

The prime time period to eat after you exercise is 20-60 minutes. Within that time frame your muscles are ready to accept protein and carbs to store them away as precious energy and building blocks for recovery.

Ok so, WHAT do I eat to get the best out of my workout?

Glad you asked. Carbohydrates will allow your body to sustain energy during a workout.  Caffeine will also boost your performance during a workout. Some great snacks to eat before a workout are:

1-2 hours before your workout:

- sweet potato (try it with some salsa, olive oil, salt & pepper!)

- a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and/or nut butter

- a 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein shake (example: 1 scoop of protein, a banana, blueberries, & water or almond milk)

- Greek yogurt with fruit and/or honey

- Chicken and rice

- toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas

 Less than 45 minutes before your workout:

- a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts or some kind of nut butter – bananas are especially great because they are high in potassium, which is what your body loses when you sweat a lot!

- granola with nuts & dried fruit

- hardboiled egg, apple, & handful of blueberries

What to eat AFTER a workout:

Consuming protein and some carbohydrates after a workout will allow for optimal muscle recovery. Think about what your goal “weight” is…you want to eat about 2 calories of carbohydrates for every pound of your target body weight. For example, if your target body weight is 150lbs, eat 300 calories of carbohydrates in the meal following your workout…but don’t forget about that protein! Here are some great recovery snacks/meals to eat after a workout:

- Sauteed, steamed or roasted vegetables with chicken or other lean protein

- Quinoa bowl with berries, pecans, and stevia

- Burrito with protein (meat or tofu), veggies, avocado, and salsa

- Protein shake: 1 or 2 scoops of protein powder, a whole or half banana, nut butter or nuts, & almond milk (choose another fruit to add in there if you’d like, maybe even some spinach…get creative!)

- Chocolate milk (YES, I said chocolate milk) – please make sure it’s antibiotic and hormone free dairy, otherwise it’s NOT worth it. And pay attention to how much sugar is in it. Between 10-20grams is a good bet for recovery. For more information for why chocolate milk is a great post-workout drink, go here.

If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to make a post-workout snack or meal (which is mostly what happens to me!), busy lives and busy muscles can be saved by quick and easy protein supplements. If you’re not eating ANYTHING within an hour of working out, you should probably change that right away. We’re all busy, so something quick like a protein bar will suffice. I use this regularly to help my muscles recover on my busy days.

So, EAT, WORKOUT, EAT again! That’s the rule. Do it right and you’ll see faster gains toward your goal(s)…I promise!!

Stay fit and in flight, Jessica