What you eat before, during and after you exercise can make or break a workout and possibly affect your fitness results which is why it’s essential to make sure you are eating right while putting in the work. Let’s put it this way; your body is your vehicle, so you’ve got to keep your engine i.e. your heart — running while you work out.
This means fueling up with the right foods before your workout, hydrating with the right fluids throughout your regimen, and eating the right amounts at the right times.
There are several opinions as to what you should eat before, during and after your workouts but these are what works for me.
Before Your Workout
Not eating before your workout can be compared to driving a car without fuel in it and you know what that can lead to. So in order for you to maximize workout and burn calories, you need to eat well so you can be well energized to proceed with your workout.
I fuel up two hours before my exercise by hydrating with water, eating healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereals(with low-fat or skim milk), low-fat or fat-free yoghurt, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, dried fruit, crackers, fruits and vegetables. Try as much as possible to avoid saturated fats and even a lot of healthy protein — because these types of foods digest slower in your stomach. The aim is to consume easily digested carbohydrates, so you don’t feel sluggish.
During Your Workout
Just like the body needs to be fueled, not cooling off during a workout is like driving a car with a radiator that has no water in it. Regardless of the level of workout you do its essential to keep your body hydrated with small, frequent sips of water. Also depending on the type of workout and the comfort of the individual, a range of foods or beverages could be useful here Juices, sports drinks, granola bars, and fruits.
After Your Workout
Eating after your workout session can be likened to refuelling your car after a long journey so it can be ready for you to drive again the next day. Eating after a workout doesn’t just replace the calories you have used up, it also helps you recover and build up muscle especially after a workout session that involved weight lifting.
After a workout, I squeeze in orange juice or watermelon juice into my water before drinking, and I eat food with protein, especially after lifting weight so as to repair and build the muscle. Examples are eggs, Greek yoghurt, chicken, peanut butter sandwich etc.
Finally, it’s important to realize that these are general guidelines and that what works for me might not necessarily work for you because we all have different digestive systems and a lot depends on the kind of workout you do.