Our bodies are machines that need to be fuelled correctly in order to function to the best of their ability when working out! Consuming the right foods and fluids before and after you exercise is crucial to get the best out of your exercise.
Before your workout
Whether you are a morning or afternoon gym-goer, this will probably influence what you eat and drink, but also whether you eat or drink.
The most important thing to consume prior to your workout is water. Whether this is just plain H2O, or water mixed with pre-workout such as BCAA, which is consumed with the aim to boost muscle growth and enhance exercise performance, it is essential your body is prepped and hydrated.
In the morning, especially if it is a particularly early session, many people often train fasted or with a small high carbohydrate source such as a banana. It is not absolutely essential to eat. You will know in yourself whether you prefer to train fasted, if you need a little boost or if you need a full meal to prep yourself prior to working out.
Carbohydrates provide us with a quick boost of energy. Carbs when they are eaten, are broken down into glucose https://www.self.com/story/what-a-registered-dietitian-says-you-should-eat-before-and-after-a-workout (sugar), which then enter into our muscle cells and give us the fuel to exercise to the best of our ability. This limits injury and boosts performance.
If it is later in the day, it is no different in terms of what should be consumed – carbs! Ensuring you’ve consumed a good level of carbohydrates at lunch is crucial to keep you going and going.
Some great pre-workout snacks include smoothies, fruit, oats, granola bar or rice cakes.
After your workout
After your workout, like before your workout, the highest priority is to rehydrate your body. Through heavy breathing and the sweat that is produced during your session, there is no doubt your body will be screaming out for water!
On top of hydrating, protein is one of, if not the most important nutrient to once again provide yourself with after exercising particularly if you have done a weight or strength session. Protein is essential in repairing the small muscle tears that naturally happen when we work with weights. These micro tears are in simple terms what promotes your muscle building, making you stronger.
Some great, easy sources of protein include Greek yogurt, boiled eggs, protein bars or protein shakes!
Carbs are also necessary to replenish the glucose you have used up throughout your workout, to keep you going throughout the day.
For more intense athletes with particular health goals such as building muscle, check with your health care professional to discuss your nutritional needs such as more protein or carbs. Ultimately, when it comes to what to consume before and after you work out, you will know what suits you best once you start training consistently. But always remember, no matter what – hydrate!