Whatever your fitness goals are, you must stick to a healthy diet – but with all the conflicting evidence out there, what should we believe?
There are many different theories which counteract what we should be eating and how to eat. both before and after a workout, so it’s difficult to know what’s best. It would be a shame to let your hard efforts go to waste if you’re a committed gym-goer that’s set on seeing results. After all, exercise and diet go hand-in-hand.
In this blog, we’re going to take a brief look at what and when you should be eating before and after a workout to keep your body healthy:
The key to feeling energetic and strong before any workout is to eat a healthy snack beforehand – such as a piece of fruit, cereal bar or a smoothie.
Snack approximately one hour before you hit the gym, so your body has the chance to properly digest it. Strenuous exercise and a full stomach will only make you feel bloated and quite sick.
As a newbie gym-goer, it’s best to experiment with this to see what works for you, but if you like to head to the gym at the crack of dawn, you may want to re-think eating breakfast. Instead, you could sip a smoothie as its filling but not stodgy, and save yourself for solid food until mid-morning.
While it’s important to drink water during your workout, many people underestimate the importance of hydration before they hit the gym. You’re likely to perspire quite a lot while exercising, so you need to top yourself up with fluids to prevent your body plummeting into dehydration mode.
You can tell whether your body is well-hydrated by the color of your urine. Ideally, it should be a pale yellow hue, however, if it’s darker (think apple juice) your body is lacking in H20.
While there are no set rules about how much water you should be drinking before a workout, it would be advised to drink between 2-3 glasses 2 hours before training and another glass at around 30 minutes.
Feeling dehydrated and continuing to work out can have several impacts on the body, including cramping, dizziness and a lack of energy, but it can also lead to further health complications.
Why eat carbs before a workout? Quite simply because they give you a boost of energy. When we eat them, they break down glucose which gives our body fuel to exercise at maximum capacity. Glucose is stored in the body and when you’re working hard, it draws from the reserves.
If you’re deficient in glucose, it’s normal to feel tired and lacking in energy, which may force you to throw in the towel before you have even started.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see how a carb-based diet is essential to keep your energy levels up. Some of the best carb snacks to eat before working out include whole-grain cereal, toast and even a bowl of rice.
Alongside carbs, it would also be a good idea to eat a small portion of protein before your workout- especially for weight training.
When your body endures strenuous activity such as weight-lifting, it causes small tears in the muscle fibers. When you sleep or eat a sufficient amount of protein, these tears repair themselves.
Some of the best sources of protein you can eat include red meat, Greek yoghurt, eggs and a glass of soya milk. Make sure you don’t eat full protein meals before a workout, as it may cause bloating.
First thing’s first – it would be advised to rehydrate the body as quickly as possible. During a workout, you’ll have lost a lot of fluids through perspiration. Just because you’ve stopped working out, doesn’t mean you should stop guzzling the H20.
There are several factors which determine how much water you should be drinking after a workout including the length and intensity of exercise, the temperature of the environment and your body’s function.
If you’ve been pushing yourself to the limit during the workout, it’s extremely important to eat something quickly to replenish your energy levels. You may not be able to eat a full meal right away, so be sure to snack little and often to avoid feeling light-headed and drained.
When it comes to choosing a snack after a workout, check the labels. It should contain between 100-300 calories. Do take into consideration that if your fitness goals are linked to weight loss, your snack should be small and on the lower scale of the calorie count.
A general rule of thumb to bear in mind, would be to choose a snack that contains 10g of protein and double the number of carbs to give your body the fuel it needs to recover.
It’s important to understand that these are just broad guidelines and it’s always important to do what’s best for your body. While taking inspiration from the pointers above, you should be aiming to create a routine that works well for your individual goals. Gain an understanding of your body and pay attention to what keeps your machine working to its maximum function.