I don't know about you, but I'm starving after a workout. Well, okay—I've been known to grab a few protein bars or power shakes before and after workouts. But it's important for me to eat the right foods before I exercise and afterward as well because it helps my body recover from all that hard work! So here's what you should be eating before your workouts and when they're over:
Before you run, fuel up with a 200-calorie snack, like a banana or apple with peanut butter. The fruit and protein will help your body digest the food, get some energy and keep you from getting lightheaded during your workout (which could lead to injury). After running, it's important to refuel quickly so that your body can replenish its glycogen stores (the form of carbohydrates stored in muscles). Try snacking on complex carbs like oatmeal or whole grain breads or pastas. If you're not hungry yet, wait about 30 minutes before eating. And if it's been over two hours since your last meal? You might need more than just one serving!
Try hydrating before and after each workout! Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help prevent dehydration—a condition that can lead to dizziness while running—plus it keeps energy levels up so they don't drop during workouts either.
Weightlifters should know that protein is a main source of energy for them. Carbohydrates are also important, and fat will help you feel full. Don't forget to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout, as dehydration can be dangerous to your health.
Hikers and backpackers
Hikers and backpackers, listen up: you need to eat more often. You might be used to eating just once or twice a day on the trail, but you’ll need more calories than that if you want your body to work at its best.
When planning for a hike or backpacking trip, start by reading up on what food is available in the area where you plan to travel. Look online or ask locals so that you know where and how much food will be available along your route. Then figure out how many miles per day of hiking/backpacking that equals in terms of energy expenditure (how many calories) and aim for 200-300% above that amount per day in terms of meals—and snacks!
Think about how long each meal should take; if it takes only 20 minutes, make sure each meal has enough protein as well as fat and carbohydrates in order for it not to digest too quickly. And don’t forget about hydration! Make sure every meal includes some type of fluid intake—if possible try adding fresh fruit juice or yogurt smoothies into the mix for some extra vitamins A & C++ or B12+++.
Spinners, you need to eat! This is the most important point for spinners to remember. Carbohydrates are your body's best source of fuel during high-intensity workouts, and they're crucial before and after a spin class.
Eat a carb-rich snack before you go to class. You want to maximize your energy levels when there is no food available.
Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal after class (but not so much that it leaves you feeling stuffed). The goal is to replenish what was burned during class, not pack on excess calories or fat from food that won't be used as fuel for exercise later in the day.
Swimmers are required to do a lot of high-intensity aerobic workouts. You need a lot of carbohydrates and protein to fuel your body for the exercise, and you also need vitamins and minerals to help with energy production. Fats are also important because they can provide extra energy during long workouts.
Swim training is an ideal time to drink a recovery shake that contains protein powder, which helps with muscle repair after a workout!
Cross-trainers and yogis
You've done your research, you know that endurance is key. You're going to be running for hours! But don't worry—you can still eat a balanced diet. The trick is finding foods that won't slow you down during your long day of running or biking. Here are some of the best pre-run foods for cross-trainers and yogis:
Oatmeal (slow burning carbs)
Quinoa (fast burning carbs)
Rice cakes (fast burning carbs)
Like you, your workouts each have their own needs. Find out what to feed them.
You can't just get up and go, of course. You have to eat! Just as you have different workouts with different needs, your body also has different nutritional needs depending on the type of exercise you're doing. For example, if you're going on a long run or a hike through the woods in 90-degree weather, it'll need energy and hydration to keep going. If you're taking part in an intense circuit training class or lifting weights at the gym, then it'll need protein and carbohydrates for recovery after your workout is done.
When it comes to working out: timing is everything! To help give your body what it needs when working out (and after), here's our guide to how much food before each type of workout:
If you're looking for a more balanced workout, start by eating less sugar and processed foods. Then, try adding some protein and carbs to your diet—or taking them in supplement form. If you're working out hard enough that your muscles are sore the next day, you might need more protein or carbs too. It's all about finding what works best for you!