Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

If you are really pressed for time, or get a hunger pain suddenly, the best thing to eat within an hour before working out is a protein shake prepared with water, or a serving of fruit that is water heavy, like grapes of watermelon. 

Many times I am asked by friends and clients questions about food. And it’s not always about calories and fat – often I am asked things like what the best thing to eat before a workout is, or how soon should you eat post-workout to get the best benefits?

I want to clear up the confusion on which foods are “the best” to have before you break a sweat, and what should be avoided. A lot of times, your body will naturally know what is good for it before and after a workout. For example, time has shown me that it’s best to avoid anything acidic – including salsa, orange juice and pasta sauce- within 4 hours before I plan on getting to the gym. Making this mistake in the past has led to indigestion and cramping, which made my workout uncomfortable and affected my performance.

If you’re planning on working out on a given day, be sure to space your meals accordingly. The best rule of thumb is to eat a small meal – about 200-400 calories- three to four hours beforehand. This should keep you satiated and provide enough energy to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

If you plan on eating 1-2 hours beforehand, aim for a snack around 100 calories. Some good ideas are fruit that is non-acidic, like a banana, or something with protein and sugar, like a handful of trail mix or half of a protein bar. In my experience, it's best to avoid dairy as well- including yogurt, milk, and  ice cream. These foods can cause indigestion and cramping. Save the other half for when you finish lifting.
In any case, be sure to avoid high-fat snacks and foods 2 hours within gym time- this includes red meat and cheeses, that will cause discomfort and indigestion.

During your workout, it is always important to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle close by and be sure to take a drink during rests. As you begin to sweat, no matter the temperature outside, you need to replenish your body’s water reserves.

After you workout, you can eat as soon as within 15 minutes. In fact, the best time to get any carbohydrates into your system in within the first 60 minutes post-workout. Eating carbs in this timeframe repletes glycogen stores in your muscles quickly, which means giving you body the energy it needs to complete any strenuous activity.

For your first meal post workout, it is a good idea to get lean protein into your diet. Grill tuna, salmon, turkey, chicken or a glass of low-fat milk. Other options make include the other half of your protein bar, protein shake, or a stir-fry with chicken. Keep drinking water with any of these meals to help your body absorb water-soluble nutrients.

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Hi! I 'm Karlene Murphy. A lover of food (especially if it's gluten and dairy free!), getting outdoors, lifting weights, travel, writing, and snuggling with my two puppies. My addictions include chocolate, coffee, cookies, and sharing my love of being HAPPY and HEALTHY! My passion is educating others - whether at my full time job as a high school Psychology teacher, or with YOU my readers. I have been in the fitness wold for almost 10 years, and currently am an Online Fitness Coach, Fitness Instructor, Pilates and Yoga and Aerial Yoga Instructor in Southern New Hampshire. Contact Me if you need help with designing your own fitness and nutrition program.

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