Today we're talking how to fuel your workouts! I get a lot of clients asking me about pre and post workout snacks. This one is a bit tough to give a generalized answer as it really depends on your overall goals (general health and wellness vs. endurance sports and high performance athletes). So as far as amounts go, it may really vary from person to person, but here are a few general rules to get you started.
First of all, you want to take an honest look at how hard you're really pushing yourself. One of the things I see getting in the way of my clients when they're trying to manage their weight, is that they think they're burning a lot more calories than they really are. For the average gym go-er, there's no need to be piling on the protein and pre and post workout shakes. If you're trying to put on weight or muscle, that's a different story.
To decide whether or not a pre and/or post workout snack is right for you, start by asking yourself these questions
Are you hungry before, during or after your workout? If the answer is yes, start by adding a pre-workout snack, re-evaluate and then add a post workout snack if you decide it's needed. If not, the fuel you're giving yourself throughout the day is likely enough.
What was your energy like during your workout? Dragging your feet? Test out that pre-workout snack.
Sore muscles and difficulty with the next day's workout? A post workout recover snack might be the answer.
Here are some general rules of thumb to get you started.
PRE WORKOUT: The main goal here is to fuel your muscles and yourself for your workout. The best foods for this job are carbohydrates. You don't want anything too heavy or hard to digest as this will just redirect your energy to your digestive tract vs. your performance.
Good pre-workout snacks include:
- Fresh fruit like bananas, berries, apples or oranges
- Dried fruit like apricots, dates or figs
- A simple smoothie with yogurt and fruit
- Fruit and nut bars
POST WORKOUT: Here, the goal is to replenish muscle glycogen stores, repair muscle tissue and rehydrate everything you've just sweat out. This means a combination of carbohydrates + protein + fluids.
As mentioned, carbohydrates are our muscle's fuel source, so after a hard workout, especially one with lots of cardio, replenishing your muscles' glycogen (carbohydrates stored as fuel) stores, will help to ensure your muscles are ready to go for your next workout.
Protein will help rebuild and repair muscles. When we work out, we create tiny tears in our muscle tissues, when these tears repair, this is where we start to see muscle growth. If you are getting into heavy weightlifting, there will be more of an emphasis on protein.
HYDRATION: Last but definitely not least, don't forget about hydration!
When we sweat, we lose fluid. Simple as that. Where water goes, electrolytes follow. So this is sort of a two part-er. Replenish fluids lost and top up with electrolytes if needed. There are 2 options for this.
Sports Drinks - reserve these for high intensity, extended activities (1-2 hours or more)
Plain Old H2O - for the most part, water will do the trick. As far as the electrolytes go, pile up the veggies in your post workout meal for a good dose of potassium (important for muscle contraction and to prevent cramping) and go ahead and sprinkle them with some salt for that extra sodium to help you re-hydrate more efficiently! If you're really feeling like you need the extra boost, you can buy electrolyte tabs to add to your water.
Good post workout snacks include:
- Toast with peanut butter and banana
- A whole foods bar like these Kind bars (bonus: these ones have flax and Omega-3s- great for post workout recovery)
- Trail mix with nuts, dried fruit...and maybe a little bit of chocolate. ;) I love keeping these Naked Snacks in my bag for a quick recharge on-the-go (Obviously the Aloha Kauai is my fave)
- A banana or an orange (high potassium) with a handful of pistachios or almonds
- Greek yogurt with berries
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