Spring has sprung! Lighter mornings, lighter nights, a little more sunshine on the horizon - for many, this means it's time to get the exercise gear out and get back on the workout wagon!
But did you know that the key to getting fit is your diet? Exercise alone helps, but get your meals and snacking right and you'll see a huge difference far quicker!
We’ve researched a dietician’s advice on the best foods to eat before and after a workout to gain maximum impact for your exercise efforts. And the best part? You can find these food at your local Costcutter at great prices!
Eating before a workout means:
• Minimised chance of feeling dizzy and nauseous
• Less risk of injury
• More likely to maximise performance impact
However, we know there’s not always time to eat properly before a workout, so note that it IS okay to exercise on an empty stomach. But ideally, you should fuel up to gain maximal benefits, and make sure you drink LOTS of water before, during and after.
Ahead of exercise, a good rule of thumb is to have a small 100 calories snack 30 mins/1 hour beforehand. This means you won’t be digesting your food during your workout, but you also won’t have used up all those useful calories either!
PRE-WORKOUT FUEL - CARBS vs PROTEIN
WHAT ARE “CARBS”?
Carbohydrates (aka “Carbs”) = energy, therefore when we eat them they break down into something called glucose. This enters our muscles and gives us fuel to exercise at max capacity! The stored glucose is used when you’re putting your muscles to work, so when you eat carbs, you are re-fuelling these stores. Carbs are great to eat pre-workout since they are digested fast and provide quick energy!
EXAMPLES OF HIGH CARB FOODS:
Granola bar, piece of fruit, porridge, Greek yoghurt, dried fruit, crackers, rice cake, piece of toast
WHAT IS PROTEIN?
Protein is another great thing for pre-workouts, especially for weight training. This is because when we lift weights, we create small tears in our muscles. When you rest, your body repairs these small tears which then makes the muscles bigger and stronger than before! But your body needs protein to do this, which is why a little bit before your workout will go a long way.
EXAMPLES OF HIGH PROTEIN FOODS:
Nuts, Greek yoghurt, a slice of turkey, a hardboiled egg, milk or soy milk
PRE-WORKOUT SNACKS + MEALS:
• Snack: A smoothie with 1 handful of fruit and 2 handfuls of vegetables or this protein-packed green smoothie recipe below (drink half before the workout and half after)
• Snack: An apple or pear with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
• Snack: 1-2 rice cakes topped with 1 tablespoon of nut butter
• Meal: Porridge oats with a tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ cup of fruit
• Meal: 4 ounces of baked salmon, ¾ cup of brown rice, with a handful of roasted veggies
HYDRATION IS KEY!
Hydration is so important before and during your workout to prevent low energy, muscle cramps or spasms. To check your hydration levels, an easy tell-tale sign is to look at the colour of your urine (glamorous, we know!) The clearer your urine, the more hydrated you are!
So, make sure you drink at least two glasses of water 2—3 hours earlier, then another cup 10-20 mins before your workout. Throughout your workout, try to drink one cup of water every 15-30 mins, especially if you’re sweating a lot.
Your local Costcutter will always be stocked up with plenty of water and energy drinks for when you’re on the go! Keep a multipack of water in your car for instant hydration – it works out cheaper that way too!
POST-WORKOUT = CARBS + PROTEIN
After exercise, your body has used all its energy and needs to function at its best. It’s recommended to eat your post-workout meal within 30 mins after exercise. to get your energy stores refuelled (or at least have a snack before your meal later!)
Your post-workout meal should be high in complex carbs and full of healthy protein. This will help repair those muscles and replace their energy stores:
1. COMPLEX CARBS:
- Brown Rice
- Whole wheat bread
2. HEALTHY PROTEINS:
It’s easy to feel like you need lots of food after your workout, but eating too much can undo all your hard work. Unless you are trying to gain weight, keep your post-workout snack to around 150 calories and your meal to under 500 calories.
One key thing to do is to RE-HYDRATE ASAP! Make sure you drink enough to regain hydration.
EASY POST-WORKOUT SNACKS + MEALS:
• Snack: 1 slice of wholemeal toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ sliced banana
• Snack: 2 multigrain crackers with a tablespoon of peanut butter
• Snack: 1 to 2 hardboiled eggs with a slice of wholemeal toast
• Meal: A wholemeal pitta stuffed with grilled veggies and 2 tablespoons hummus
• Meal: Veggie omelette with avocado and 170g of roasted potatoes
• Meal: 4 ounces of steamed trout with a baked sweet potato and sautéed spinach
Why not look at our Fitness Food recipes for some deliciously healthy workout snacks and meals? Head down to your local Costcutter to find your ingredients!