When you’re talking about pre-workout and post-workout meals, the content is approximately the same as the snacks, but you eat more, so the timing of the meal is different. You can eat a snack closer to working out since you aren’t eating as much. It’s also easier to bring a post-workout snack to the gym to consume as soon after a workout as possible. For preworkouts, the bigger the pre-workout meal, the longer you need to wait to exercise.
A balance of macronutrients are necessary for a pre-workout meal or snack.
Carbs are vital for energy, which you need for a successful workout. Eating carbs before working out has been proven to improve performance. Adding some protein is also helpful for longer endurance. Avoid fiber. It takes longer to get through your digestive tract. Watermelon, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and beets are excellent. Avoid fat. Fat, like fiber, requires more effort for your body to digest.
A post-workout meal boosts recovery and helps build muscle tissue.
Eating within 45 minutes after a workout can help your body recover faster. When your workout is intense, it burns the store of glycogen and can damage muscle proteins. Eating a combination of carbs and protein can help in many ways. You’ll replenish glycogen stores, increase muscle growth, decrease any muscle breakdown, and improve recovery. Consuming at least 30-40 grams of carbohydrates and 20-30 grams of protein (one serving of Greek yogurt) as soon after your workout as possible if you’re eating a snack. You can include healthy fat in the post-workout meal.
Hydrate before, during, and after each workout.
Drinking plenty of water can help you stay hydrated and boost your workout efforts. If you’ve had an intense workout, you may need to replenish electrolytes for recovery. Chicken soup can help replenish sodium, while tomatoes, lettuce, and olives provide chloride. Fresh fruit like melons, grapes, and oranges provide both liquid and potassium. A side of baked sweet potatoes or a spinach and kale salad also provides potassium. Green leafy vegetables also provide magnesium.
- If the meal is small, like a snack, wait half an hour to an hour before exercising. If it’s a bigger meal, wait two to three hours. Eat as soon as possible after a workout.
- Salmon and sweet potatoes, a tuna salad sandwich on whole grain, and Greek yogurt with berries and granola are good snack options. Eat more for a meal, like a multi-vegetable salad, grilled salmon, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat bread.
- It’s all about intensity. The harder you work, the more you need a post-workout snack or meal. Eat a snack if you can’t eat a full meal within 45 minutes. Bananas, fruit and nut mixes, or nut butter and apples are a good choice.
- Combinations of Greek yogurt and berries, with a few pistachios sprinkled in make a good snack. Add it to a big salad that’s topped with salmon or turkey and you have a great pre-workout meal.
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