Foods to fuel your body pre and post-workout

In order for our bodies to perform at their best they need the right fuel, as well as to help aid recovery and make the most of the training that you’ve just completed. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the most nutritious foods and drinks you can take on-board before and after your workout.

Pre-workout fuel

Without the right fuel, your body won’t have enough energy to train properly. And without energy you can’t maximise your sessions.

A general rule of thumb is to eat a balanced meal between one and four hours before a workout, depending on the amount you are going to take on. Alternatively a small snack can be consumed closer to the beginning of your session to help prepare your body.

The right pre-workout nutrition will get your body ready for what’s to come, so that you can focus on your goals. Here are some of the best pre-workout options:

1. Water

Before anything, hydration is absolutely vital. That means making sure that you’ve taken on enough fluid in the lead up to your workout. Build up gradually though; a gallon of water just before you hit the pedals or lace up your running shoes will be counter-productive.

2. Oats

If you’re training in the morning, a breakfast containing oats is a great idea. They’re complex carbohydrates and provide a slow release of energy, which is ideal to get you through your session. Top them with nuts or fruit for extra flavour and goodness.

3. Bananas

Bananas contain sugars that enter your bloodstream faster than other fruits, making them an ideal snack before exercise. They also contain plenty of potassium, which will help you avoid muscle cramps afterwards.

4. Lean protein

Chicken or turkey breast combined with a whole grain and green veg (like broccoli, kale etc.) is a solid pre-workout meal. But what if you’re vegan? Soya, tempeh and beans are among the high protein foods vegans can eat, so simply swap them with the meat. The key here is getting plenty of carbs and balancing the meal with a little protein too.

Post-workout recovery

Whereas the emphasis is on carbs for energy pre-workout, protein for recovery comes to the fore post-workout. Ideally, you’d eat a balanced meal, but shakes and snacks have their place too. One of the keys is to consume something that’ll be light on your stomach, as it can be a little sensitive immediately after a session. Here are some post-workout ideas:

1. Sports drinks

We started with hydration pre-workout, so let’s look at the importance of post-workout hydration. As we sweat our body loses electrolytes, which need replacing. You can try a specialist sports drink or, if you prefer, drop an energy tablet into water.

2. Yoghurt and berries

Choose live yoghurt for protein and healthy bacteria for your gut. Top with berries to get a hit of antioxidants and to add a little sweetness.

3. Toast and peanut butter

Peanut butter gets a bad rap outside the strength and fitness world, but those within it know how good it can be for you. The key is to choose a quality product. Natural peanut butter provides an ideal blend of protein and fat – just what your body needs after working out. On top of that, peanut butter is another of the foods vegans can eat to provide the necessary protein – just check the label before you buy.

4. Whey protein smoothie

Whey is one of the easiest sources of protein to consume, and you can combine it with other ingredients to make a really well-balanced post-workout shake. Grab your blender, chuck in a scoop of whey, a banana and a handful of cashew nuts to get the recovery going.

Good nutrition is every bit as important as a solid exercise routine, and there are plenty of options. Give these tips a try and not only will you be ready to go at the start of your workout, but you’ll also maximise your recovery too.

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