Have you ever wondered what you should eat before and after a workout? We all know how important nutrition is but in my opinion, there is too much information out there on healthy eating. It’s nearly impossible to sort through in order to know how to eat for your results. That’s exactly what my goal is with my food posts… SIMPLIFY & SOLVE!
SIMPLIFY: with the Internet’s information overload, I always want to help simplify the copious amount of food advice out there. Below, I’ll cut to to the chase of what I eat pre and post workout as well as why I do so.
SOLVE: when you come to my blog, it’s likely because you have something you’d like solved (ex: what’s a new idea I can find for the gym, is there a full workout I can follow, should I try a new recipe, where can I get meal prep advice, etc.) I enjoy following fashion bloggers to solve my problem of what should I wear/buy. It’s not because I cannot put together an outfit, but they solve my problem quicker. That’s what I always hope my posts, especially the nutrition related ones do for you… provide solutions!
PRE WORKOUT MEAL IDEAS
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A PRE-WORKOUT MEAL
Balanced Meal: the first thing I think of as I put together a meal before my workout is to keep it balanced from a macronutrient standpoint. Recall the 3 macronutrients are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Each macronutrient serves a purpose in a meal. Before I workout, I want the benefits of all three. Protein will be useful for muscle recovery, carbohydrates will give us the energy needed in a workout and fat will slow the overall digestion of the meal so that these benefits will last throughout our workout.
Nourishing not Heavy: prior to a workout, it’s important to eat a meal that is nourishing and will fill you without being heavy. Think of trying to workout after a Thanksgiving dinner feast. I think light and nourishing for a pre-workout meal.
Stay Away from Sugary Foods: this is something I do to keep from feeling those blood sugar spikes. You’re already trying to keep the meal balanced but for the sake of stable energy, this isn’t the time to enjoy some candy or ice cream (save that for post-workout!)
Timing: I like to enjoy my pre-workout meal about 1-2 hours prior to training. Everyone metabolizes food at different rates so this timing may be something you need to adjust to best fit you. For me, I’ll eat then take a pre-workout about 1 hour later then head to the gym about 15 minutes after that and my gym commute is about an additional 15 minutes, so around 1.5 hrs (although I don’t fret if this isn’t the way it works out).
Cardio Tweaks: if your workout is purely a cardio workout, you may want to consider changing up your pre-workout meal. Instead of the meal being completely “balanced” you could choose to slightly lower the carbohydrate amount. This is useful because carbs = energy and in a cardio workout, we don’t require the same energy demand as compared to a heavier lifting day.
PRE-WORKOUT MEAL EXAMPLES
1) Avo Egg Toast: 2 slices Ezekiel bread toast + 1/4 avocado + 2 fried eggs
2) Taco Salad: bed of greens + diced chicken breasts + shredded cheese + black beans + avocado ranch dressing
3) 2 hard boiled eggs, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1 apple
^this is my go-to pre-workout meal (it also typically happens to be my 3rd meal of the day)
POST-WORKOUT MEAL IDEAS
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A POST-WORKOUT MEAL
Protein Protein Protein: this is where you want to ensure you’re getting your protein in. There are a lot of different opinions on how quickly you need to consume protein post-workout Some say as quickly as 15-30 minutes; I like to shoot for having sufficient protein within an hour of my workout. Most times, this works out for me so that I can get home and eat a meal. If I have to run errands after my workout, I’ll be sure to bring protein powder and have a protein shake after my workout. Do whatever works best for you! Protein is important for aiding in muscle recovery.
Hey Carbs, Hey: the fun thing after a workout (mainly after a weight training workout) is that our bodies are craving carbs. Think of carbs purely as energy. During a workout, we deplete our glycogen stores (the body’s storage form of carbohydrates) and they need replenishing. There’s also a magical protein and carb combination; you can think of carbs as a broom that helps to sweep protein into the muscle cells. Carbs not only aid in muscle recovery but also speed up recovery. If you have a higher carb meal in your day, make it your post workout meal! I like the meal after my workout to have substantial, filling carbs.
Less Fat: keeping with the macronutrient mindset, fats aren’t as important in a post-workout meal. This is because when ingested with other macronutrients, fats slow the digestion rate of the entire meal. This is normally a beneficial thing but after a workout, we want those nutrients to be absorbed rather quickly. For this reason, I wouldn’t suggest adding a lot of fat to your post-workout meal.
Time to Treat: if there is any time of the day I would *suggest* as the best time to enjoy a treat, it would be after your workout. If you follow the Eat Your Way Lean Meal Plan, refer to the page on how to enjoy “treating on track” – it’s totally possible to enjoy treat foods like pizza, chips, cookies and ice cream while eating “on plan.” It’s about timing and portions and I talk more about that in the meal plan if you need greater detail. A post-workout meal is where I would add in a treat on track if I’m going to in a day.
POST-WORKOUT MEAL EXAMPLES
1) protein shake + handful of cashews + granola bar + sugar snap peas
^this is an example of a post-workout meal I would have if I need to run errands after my workout or can’t get home to make a meal (=easy to eat in a car lol)
2) chicken breast + pesto sauce (chicken marinaded in pesto, cooked on the grill) + side salad + small bowl of vanilla ice cream with a crumbled chocolate chip cookie mixed in
^this is an example of a post-workout meal I would have when I wanted to include a treat
3) taco casserole (recipe HERE)
^this is an example of a post-workout meal I would enjoy most nights
IT’S ABOUT ALL 24 HOURS
Healthy eating is a marathon not a sprint. I hope this post helps you gain a deeper understanding of how certain macronutrients can benefit you more based on timing. However, I want to make sure I mention the importance of eating well in all 24 hours of the day. It’s not just about a meal or two that will help us see results, it’s about eating well consistently!
If you ever feel stuck with how to eat, why certain foods are better at certain times or just need a guide to follow on how to see results through food along, I would suggest checking out my Eat Your Way Lean Meal Plan!
I shared my Avocado Toast tank on IG yesterday. How perfect is it for Sunday brunch?!
HERE is where I bought it