Pre and post-workout foods comes up a LOT with my clients and when I’m out and about doing talks, so as promised, here is a short but sweet summary for you so you can get the most out of your sweaty workouts!
We all have completely different genetic makeups, fitness goals (i.e. fat loss, competition, muscle building, maintenance, or general health), workouts, lifestyles, and metabolisms so any information you read on exercising for workouts need to be taken with a pinch of healthy pink salt!
As a starting point, the following rules apply, but know that your body is unique and the best way to tell if these principles are working for you is to try them and listen to your body. Then you can course correct.
As yourself the following questions:
How are my energy levels before a workout?
Do I feel lethargic or tired mid-workout if I’ve eaten something?
Am I a morning exercises or do I train better in the afternoon or evening?
How long ago did I last eat?
Could I have trained harder during that workout?
The answer to all these questions will all steer your meal choices and pre and post workout fuel.
What is more important than your pre and post-workout nutrition is your overall intake during the entire day! Making sure we’re supplying our bodies on a daily basis with whole foods that are rich in protein, carbohydrates, fibre, healthy fats and key nutrients is key. It’s easy to focus your attention on the pre and post-workout meals but your overall nutrition will yield you better results.
Depending on your chosen workout, you might not even need a pre or post-workout aid. If your exercise consists of low-moderate pace walking, cycling or swimming for under 30 minutes then your body can likely hang on until your next meal. If on the other hand, your bout of exercise involves heavy weight lifting, HIIT, circuit training or any other high intensity exercise or your goal is to gain muscle, then having a pre-workout will ensure you have ample energy and can recover efficiently afterwards.
- If you’re in need of a bit of stimulation before a workout- drink a good cup of coffee. You’ll train harder with the caffeine stimulation and the harder you train, the more you’ll burn.
- Food wise, carbohydrates and a bit of protein are best for before a workout, keep fats to a minimum as they take longer to digest. Rye bread with tuna or boiled egg or a clean protein shake or BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) if your goal is to trim down.
- Fresh fruits (banana, pears, berries etc.)
- Dried fruit
- A green smoothie with leafy greens, banana and coconut water and some hemp or rice protein
Again, these foods will differ depending on your fitness goals, weight loss/ gain goals, the exercise you are doing, the duration you are training for and the intensity. What you’ve eaten earlier that day will also vary your pre-workout meal and as I mentioned earlier, it might be that you don’t need one at all. I definitely train better on an empty stomach in a ‘fasted’ state but horses for courses!
- Carbohydrates and protein should be the main focus, whilst keeping fat down to a minimum
- A whole food meal would be perfect and ideal, for example a protein of your choice with a sweet potato, salad, and a bit of avocado or olive oil for dressing.
- A green smoothie with spinach, coconut water and added protein powder or other protein source to aid recovery, strength and growth
- Protein pancakes – add a natural vanilla plant based protein powder to your usual pancake recipe and add some berries or smashed banana on top!
- Banana and protein shake (I like Sunwarrior, Vega or hemp)
- Toasted rye bread with hard boiled eggs.
- Porridge with protein mixed through
There you have it!
All the healthy best,