How to maximize your workout results with food

The secret to getting better results from your workouts? Falls down to what you eat before and after your workout. This is especially important to remember that what you eat even when you aren’t training. Making sure that you are fueling your body with wholesome, nutritious food, which in turn will improve your performance during a workout.

Ideas to eat before a workout

I know this isn’t for everyone, I know some people (including myself) struggle to eat before a workout, especially in a morning. Before a workout, eating a small amount of complex carbohydrates can help you perform better by giving you more energy. Not eating enough before a workout can make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or lethargic during the workout. This is more so if you are wanting to perform better when it comes to lifting weights, yes you will tap into your fat stores but if you are trying to build muscle you need the energy from your food to restore your muscles and build the fibers back once they have been torn when performing the exercises.

Some ideas for what to eat before a workout include:

Dates (especially dipped in any nut butters!) this is the perfect sweet & savory snack that has the sugar and healthy fats to balance your sugar levels and won’t give you that instant sugar high, bananas, pineapples and oranges are some of the best choices because they are high in glucose and will top up your energy stores. They are light, and will not weigh you down, and are easy to digest. Fruit is a good pre-workout snack, in my opinion. I know some people reach for the caffeine drinks and protein shakes and if that works for you, then great. As I always mention I am not a qualified nutritionist this is just from my own research. If you are looking to have a bigger meal / get more carbs, fats or protein in, then why not opt for a protein bar, shake or ball – especially if you make these yourself you will know 100% what has gone into them. 

I personally work well with a high fat diet which keeps me fuller for longer throughout my work out until I have my meal / snack after.

Chia seeds. Chia offers sustained energy and is great particularly for endurance workouts. It also balances blood sugar and combats dehydration.

You don’t want to work out on a full stomach – we all know that, as that can lead to cramps, and actually less energy, because your body is going to be sending blood to your stomach to digest the food, instead of oxygenating your extremities while you work out.

So, a small snack 1-2 hours before the workout is ideal

Should I eat first thing in the morning?

If you work out right after you get up, and don’t want to eat beforehand, that’s okay (as long as you don’t have blood sugar regulation issues). One main point i would suggest is to drink 2-3 tall glasses of water to make sure you are adequately hydrated (as we get dehydrated when we sleep).

When you work out on an empty stomach, you may burn more fat, however, your performance will suffer in terms on endurance and strength. The water will help to a degree, but your best performance will come after being fueled with carbs or healthy fats and protein.

Ideas of what to eat after a workout to build muscle

What a lot of people don’t realize, is that your muscle building and firming actually takes place after your work out, not during. During the workout, your stretching after creates little tears in the muscles, and it’s after the workout, when your body repairs these tears, that you actually build and firm up the muscles.

This is the most important thing you want to consume after you work out. Your body needs to be hydrated to repair and build muscle. If you are dehydrated, you will not see results as quickly. So adequately drinking water before and after a workout is crucial. This is also very important to be doing through out the day,

If you think you are not getting enough water, these tips may help:

1. Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work of running errands.

2. Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar sweetened drinks will save you about 240 calories..

3. Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.

4. Add a wedge of lime or lemon or other fruits to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.

Post workout is when you need protein to repair the muscles. You ideally want to get about 10-20 grams of protein within 30 minutes, or up to two hours after a workout for best results. Some ideas include:

3 tablespoons of hemp seeds in a smoothie or salad (9g)

Add nut butter, seed butter, nuts, or seeds to your smoothie for additional protein

1 cup of beans or lentils in a salad, soup, or other dish (roughly 15 g)

Complex Carbohydrates: 
Complex carbs replenish glycogen stores, so you can go ahead and train again tomorrow. If you don’t get adequate carbs, the next days workout can feel harder. After working out you want to choose good carbs like vegetables, which are the best choice, and whole grains. 

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