Best Things to Eat Before and After a Workout
Exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight, improving cardiovascular health, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. However, in order to get the most out of your workout, it is important to fuel your body with the right foods before and after exercise. Doing so will help you exercise longer and harder, avoid injury, and speed up recovery.
The best things to eat before a workout are foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat. Complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice provide sustained energy levels throughout your workout. Meanwhile, simple carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables are easily digestible and give you a quick burst of energy when you need it most. As for fat, it should be avoided before a workout because it takes longer to digest and can lead to cramping.
As for what to eat after a workout, protein is key. Protein helps repair the muscles that are broken down during a workout, helping them grow stronger. Good sources of protein include lean meats such as chicken or fish, tofu, legumes, and eggs. It’s also important to rehydrate after a workout by drinking plenty of water or fluids with electrolytes, such as sports drinks.
complex carbohydrates + moderate protein + low fat + high water content
Eating before exercising is to top off energy stores in the muscles (glycogen) and provide a steady supply of blood sugar (glucose) to the brain during long or intense workouts. Complex carbohydrates are the best source of fuel because they are slowly metabolized and do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Good sources of complex carbs include oatmeal, whole-grain bread, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and legumes. These should be paired with moderate protein (10-20 grams) to help repair muscle tissue after exercise. Fat should be kept to a minimum because it is slowly metabolized and can lead to gastrointestinal issues during exercise. Finally, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids before exercise. Aim for 16-24 ounces (2-3 cups) of water or sports drink 2-3 hours before exercising.
simple carbohydrates + protein + low fat + high water content
In contrast to pre-workout meals, which should be relatively small to avoid gastrointestinal issues during exercise, post-workout meals should be larger to replenish glycogen stores and promote muscle recovery. Immediately after exercise, aim for a simple carbohydrate such as fruit juice or honey combined with protein powder or Greek yogurt. This combo provides quick energy for depleted muscles and helps kick-start repair. Within 2 hours of exercise, have a more substantial meal that includes complex carbs, lean protein, healthy fats, and lots of fluids. Good options include grilled chicken or fish with quinoa or sweet potato, turkey or black bean chili with whole-wheat bread, or roasted vegetables with wild rice or lentils.
Exercise is essential for good health, but in order to get the most out of your workout, it is important to fuel your body with the right foods before and after exercise. Eating complex carbs paired with moderate protein before working out will give you sustained energy throughout your workout while keeping fat intake low to avoid gastrointestinal issues. After working out, aim for a combination of simple carbs and protein as well as a more substantial meal within 2 hours that includes complex carbs, lean protein, healthy fats, and fluid drinkers 16-24 ounces (2-3 cups) two-three hours before working out. Doing so will help improve your performance during exercise while helping you avoid injury and speed up recovery time afterward.