Food as Fuel - Before, During and After Workouts
Updated: Apr 18
Your body is your vehicle, so you have to keep your engine running when you work out. That means fueling up your body by eating the right foods and drinking the right fluids, in the right amounts at the right times.
You don’t have to adhere to a rigid schedule and there are no hard-fast rules but there are some basic things you should do before, during and after you work out. Of course, always consider your personal situation (ie allergies, limiting conditions, personal preferences) and if you need advice for applying these basics contact a nutritionist, dietician and/or your doctor.
Before: Fuel Up!
Not fueling up before you work out is like “driving a car on empty”. You also won’t have enough energy to maximize your workout and you limit your ability to burn calories.
Ideally, fuel up two hours before you exercise by:
Hydrating with water.Eating healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereals (with low-fat or skim milk), whole-wheat toast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables. Avoiding saturated fats and even a lot of healthy protein because these types of fuels digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy, delivering blood from your muscles.
If you only have 5-10 minutes before you exercise, eat a piece of fruit such as an apple or banana. A fruit smoothie/shake is my favourite way to go if I'm working out at lunchtime. My Ninja is my best friend lol. This is the model I have https://amzn.to/2LIXaPo and I will make one with frozen banana in the morning then go teach my class at 12 noon or 1pm.
The key is to consume easily digested carbohydrates, so you don’t feel sluggish.
During: Make a Pit Stop.
Whether you’re a professional athlete who trains for several hours or you have a low to moderate routine, keep your body hydrated with small, frequent sips of water.
If your workout is an hour or less, you don’t need to eat anything but, for longer, high-intensity vigorous workouts, 50-100 calories every half hour of carbohydrates such as low-fat yogurt, raisins, or banana.
After: Refuel Your Tank.
After your workout, refuel with:
Fluids. Drink water, of course. Blending your water with 100% juices can also be an alternative to sports drinks. The key is to replenish fluids, vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates. You can burn a lot of carbohydrates — the main fuel for your muscles — when you exercise. In the 20-60 minutes after your workout, your muscles can store carbohydrates and protein as energy and help in recovery. Protein. Eat things with protein to help repair and grow your muscles.
It’s important to realize that these are general guidelines. We have different digestive systems and a lot depends on what kind of workout you’re doing.
So do what works best for you. Know that what you put in your body (nutrition) is as important as you what you do with your body (exercise). Both are crucial to keeping your engine performing at its best.
Looking for nutrition resources for you personally? Feel free to contact me and I can research community organizations and programs in your area that can help:).
Interested in a fitness/wellness consultation or have some questions about nutrition and your current fitness program? Join any of my groups online (Facebook) and/or pick up my book, How to be Fit for Life - Eight Proven Steps to Reaching Your Fitness Goals, Getting Results, and Living the Fitness Life for more help with your fitness journey.