There's nothing quite as satisfying as pushing yourself in a workout and reaping the rewards. While mental strength is a vital component of taking fitness to the next level, nutrition is just as important. In fact, the right pre-and post-workout meals can significantly impact the effectiveness of your exercise. Here's a closer look at what you should be eating before and after you hit the gym.
Fueling Before a Workout
The goal of a pre-workout meal is to balance out your blood sugar and provide your body with energy. Achieving this goal requires three important nutritional factors. This includes carbs, protein, and fat. During a workout, glycogen stores are the primary source of energy, which is powered by carbs. When these energy stores run out, your body switches over to fat for power. Protein, on the other hand, helps increase strength and muscle performance.
Carbs and proteins are an absolute necessity for pre-workout meals. Carbs include filling items, like oatmeal and potatoes, while proteins involve options like eggs, dairy, and soy products. If you're taking on high-intensity or short exercises that are under 30 minutes, you don't necessarily need any fats. However, if you're planning on working out for an hour or longer, add some healthy fats to your meal, like nuts or an avocado.
Additionally, timing also impacts the effectiveness of a pre-workout meal. Eating two to three hours before hitting the gym is ideal, but it's important to leave at least 45 minutes to digest at the very least.
Replenishing After a Workout
After a workout, the goal is to replenish your body's nutrients so that it can effectively repair itself. As with the pre-workout stage, post-exercise involves carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. In these situations, protein serves to help repair and build muscle tissue, while carbs serve to rebuild your body's glycogen storage. Some fats, like whole milk, can help promote muscle growth, but these fattier foods should be eaten sparingly. A few examples of quick and delicious post-fitness foods include peanut butter and banana slices on whole-grain toast or rice cakes, or a nutrient-packed smoothie. In your smoothie, add protein powder, fruits, and fresh greens. Another great snack is oatmeal, sliced fruit, and chopped nuts. If you’re working out before dinner, eat grilled chicken on a bed of whole-grain rice with steamed vegetables as your meal.
For optimal effectiveness, eat within 45 minutes of leaving the gym. If you've had a proper pre-workout meal, you can stretch this timeframe for up to two hours.
Get the most out of your workouts by turning to Life & Elite Fitness CO in Snohomish County, WA. The local gym offers an impressive mix of training options incorporating a variety of workout options, including cardio, weight training, and kickboxing. Enjoy one-hour personal training sessions, small-group workouts, or online fitness classes. Learn more about their offerings online, and direct any questions to (206) 450-0964.