Giving your body adequate fuel and nutrition before and after every workout is key for staying energized, building lean muscle, burning calories and losing weight, and for promoting a healthy recovery of your tissues.
PRE-WORKOUT, you want to focus on getting healthy complex carbs (such as veggies, fruits and whole grains). When we eat carbs, our bodies store them in the muscles as glycogen, and as we exercise, we begin to deplete this glycogen – particularly in the first hour. Our bodies also metabolize fats and protein for energy, particularly in longer workouts, so including a little bit of vegetarian fat and protein (such as nuts and seeds) is recommended.
However, it’s important to make your pre-workout meal light and eat it at least 30-45 mins before starting your exercise so it doesn't overload your digestion while working out
WHAT IF YOU'RE WORKING OUT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING - SHOULD YOU STILL EAT? Unless it's just a light exercise like walking or gentle yoga, then yes, ideally you should eat something small. Working out while hungry can place stress on your body, activating your sympathetic nervous system, and can even make you lose muscle mass as your body will draw protein from your muscles for fuel. Just a small portion of 1 of my suggested pre-workout meals can do the trick.
Here are 5 of my favorite pre-workout meals/snacks:
1. GREEN JUICE/SMOOTHIE - made with: 2 servings of greens, 2 servings of fruit, and 1 serving of healthy fats/fiber. If it’s an early morning workout, just ½ a green juice/smoothie is sufficient. Here is a great recipe to try:
2. OATMEAL with added fiber, healthy fats and protein (I like to use flax and/or chia seeds) and a small portion of fruit (optional).
3. SWEET POTATO (baked or steamed) with coconut oil and flax seeds to give you extra healthy fat, omega-3s and a bit of protein:
4. SPROUTED GRAIN TOAST WITH AVOCADO, and a sprinkle of flax and/or chia seeds.
5. BANANAS, ALMONDS & CHIA SEEDS. You can enjoy 1 small banana sliced with a spoonful of almond butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and chia seeds, or even better, enjoy this easy and delicious chia pudding recipe (which will be enough for 2-3 servings):
ARE THERE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN? Naturally, yes, but these basic guidelines and my suggested meals work well for both. For the most part, women metabolize fat more efficiently and need less carbs. So while ½ a banana with 1 tbsp. almond butter is enough carbs for most women, a man might want to have the entire banana or add a slice of whole grain toast.
Give my recipes a try before your next work out (aim for an hour before), and adjust serving sizes to your needs.
And now stay tuned for next week's blog for more on POST-WORKOUT nutrition!
Love and Fit Food,