It’s Thursday afternoon, you’re just getting off work, and you need to decide if you should workout or finish your current show on Netflix. Decisions, decisions …
You have really been making an effort to walk 10,000 steps a day, hit a yoga class at least once a week and want to run that 5k in the fall. So, you know the right decision is to exercise. BUT, you are hungry. You know that if you are hungry now, you will be “starving” midway through your workout. However, if you eat dinner before, well you may vomit.
The stress of deciding to eat or not eat has swayed you to go home and watch Netflix.
Exercise should help relieve stress, not cause it!
A common question many people have is, what should you eat before, during and after a workout? Let’s review how you can relieve yourself of that pre-workout stress and instead, fuel yourself for performance.
My advice for that pre-workout fuel is “EAT SOME FOOD.” I always recommend a food first approach.
Some of you are morning birds, others are night owls, but what you all have in common is the need to fuel for performance.
First, let’s start with pre-workout. I suggest eating something small 30 minutes before a workout. You want it to be high in carbohydrates and low in protein. We want high carbohydrate as this will be the fuel for your workout.
For pre-workout food, I suggest one of the following:
- Granola bar
- Slice of toast (I add chocolate hazelnut butter)
During your workout
Throughout your workouts, I suggest water because #HydrateOrDiedrate. Sports Drinks are only recommended if your workouts are longer than 90 minutes. After 90 minutes of exercise, it is important to refuel your muscle stores with carbohydrates, which can be found in sports drinks. If you are exercising less than 90 minutes, just drink water as you will be refueling after your workout.
PRO TIP: Remember, it is important to hydrate throughout the day to actually be hydrated. If you are only chugging water before, during, or after exercise, your body will not absorb the water. You will just pee it right out! Just take small sips of water consistently throughout the day!
Finally, your workout is coming to an end and you see everyone sipping protein powder out of their shaker bottle.
I believe in a food first approach, so no need to invest in a protein powder. We want a high-quality protein and fast acting carbohydrates post workout to help repair and refuel your muscles. Most people only need 20 g of protein after working out. Some food options I like to suggest are:
- Chocolate milk
- Greek yogurt with some berries
- Chicken breast on a whole grain wrap.
There are thousands of supplements out there and maybe your trainer, coworker or family member recommend their favorite one for before and after exercising. But, remember that we have been eating food for a long time and eating to perform is possible. Supplements may be right in some situations for some people, so be sure to consultant with your dietitian before starting anything.
Always remember the FOOD FIRST APPROACH to fuel yourself for performance.