One of the biggest issues the world is facing today is obesity and how it affects both children and adults. Since then, various institutions from around the world have aggressively advocated for a healthier society. We all know we can achieve that through proper diet, and getting enough sleep and exercise.
Admit it. Like most of us, you probably eat little before and after your work out. You feel guilty for eating before and after the exercise, since you already lost a good amount of calories. Apparently, that’s not how it goes. Research shows that your body still burns the same amount of fat regardless if you eat or not before a workout. Exercise makes you hungry, as well.
Before Workout Meals
Still, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat. Working out on an empty stomach could cause muscle loss. This slows down your metabolism and makes it harder for you to lose weight. The key here is choosing the right foods that will go inside your body such as:
1. Greek Yogurt
Is running your thing? Then eating Greek yogurt, not just any kind of yogurt, will help you a lot since it is easy on your stomach and gives you the energy you need.
To get more from before food before a workout, pair the yogurt with trail mix, which is nut and dried fruit based.
The dried nuts contain sugar that could give you an energy boost, while the nuts and seeds will prevent your insulin levels from dropping during workouts.
Greek yogurt and trail mix are a good combination. Make sure to take it easy on this since too much could make you feel sluggish. At the same time, seeds and nuts take longer to digest, which gives you energy as you sweat.
2. Oatmeal And Fresh Fruits
Here’s a little secret: oatmeal is the perfect workout buddy. Aside from being a good source of fiber, oatmeal sticks to your body all throughout the workout. It also slowly releases sugar into your bloodstream.
If you find oatmeal too plain, add fresh fruits in it. Fruits could increase fluids inside your body to keep you hydrated throughout the session. Just make sure you won’t go for the instant oatmeal variation since this is less healthy.
Let’s say you don’t have enough time to whip a pre-workout snack in the kitchen. Your best option? Smoothies, of course.
Smoothies are the best on-the-go snack on your way to the gym. All you need are a cup of Greek yogurt, your favorite sliced fruit and granola then blend them all together. In case you’re running late, you could get a smoothie from your favorite juice store.
However, make sure to check the label and see if it is made from milk-based proteins or whey. You don’t need to finish more than one cup before you workout. Just 10 to 20 grams of protein is enough to get you going.
4. Whole Wheat Toast
Carbs are the best source of energy if you plan to engage in any physical activity. When it comes to carbs, whole wheat bread should be part of your list.
However, whole wheat is not enough. Carbs should be a mixture of simple and complex ones to make sure that the release of energy is slow and steady during the entire workout.
Try wheat toast and add bananas or any of your favorite fruit in it for an energy boost. It gives you both simple and complex carbs while making sure that your body could digest it easily. Adding cinnamon in it could also help stabilize your blood sugar and improve brain function, which are also crucial during workout.
The best part is that it is easy to prepare, too.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. If you are looking for some pre-workout sugar that won’t affect your performance in the gym, then go for apples.
Apples are great in helping you avoid that sugar crash in the middle of the workout. At the same time, they are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which could help you a lot during the workout itself.
However, some people will find apples plain and would want something more. In that case, try almond butter. Cut the apples in thin slices, spread almond butter on each slice and eat. The almond butter could give your energy levels a boost while taking down your hunger.
Is there anything more important than water when it comes to exercise? One of the biggest mistakes made by people is that they don’t hydrate enough prior and during workout.
Keep in mind that water is an essential nutrient and a staple workout buddy to help you achieve better performance. At the same time, it maintains normal body temperature during workout. Drink two to three cups of water at least two to three hours before exercising. That is enough time to hydrate your body.
After Workout Meals
As you workout, your body taps glycogen, or the fuel stored in your muscles, for energy. After workout, your muscles lose glycogen and your body is in dire need of energy to be able to function properly. In that case, here are the foods you should eat post-workout.
7. Veggie Omelet With Avocado
Protein is among the nutrients your body needs after work out. Eggs are excellent sources of protein while helping your muscles recover.
Instead of going for scrambled, try omelet with lots of veggies in it. Add a few slices of avocado and your body is good to go.
Avocado is rich in fiber and the good kind of monosaturated fats. At the same time, it helps your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins present in your veggie omelet such as vitamins A and E. These vitamins are best in boosting your body, thanks to antioxidants.
8. Salmon And Sweet Potato
One of the best sources of protein that is also good for the heart is salmon. Aside from its protein content, did you know that salmon could make an excellent post-workout food? Add sweet potatoes to the menu and you will surely give your body a boost even after workout.
Salmon has bioactive peptides, a small protein molecule that helps in reducing inflammation, gives you joint support and regulates insulin levels. At the same time, the sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbs that could restore glycogen levels for your muscles.
Season with salt and pepper, add a dash of lemon, and then bake.
9. Whole Wheat Bread With Tuna And Spinach
White rice, white bread and pasta may be your sources of carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this won’t work best after workouts. Think about the calories you lost.
In this case, try tuna, hummus and spinach on whole wheat bread. Tuna is also heart-healthy and low in calories but high in carbs and protein.
On the other hand, hummus is high in fiber and a healthier alternative to mustard and mayo. Spinach is a power house food that could curb your appetite, lower blood pressure and inflammation, and improve your complexion.
This is also best if you prefer working out during lunchtime. It is easy to prepare, too.
10. Chocolate Milk
Good news chocolate lovers. Finally, you now have a reason to add chocolate into your diet, especially after workouts. This is a perfect post-workout drink aside from water or other sports drink.
What makes chocolate milk, or chocolate alone, a great post-workout drink?
It has everything you need. It has protein that aids in muscle recovery, water to replace the fluids you lost during workout and carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores or the energy stored in your muscles. It also contains sugar, calcium and sodium, which helps you recover faster and regain your energy back.
That is one more reason to drink more chocolate.
11. Grilled Chicken And Veggies
After a workout, your body starts to shift from exercise mode to recovery mode. Your energy level is depleted, your muscles are tired and perhaps torn, and overall, you’re tired from the workout.
This is why it is important that you go for a nutrient dense dish to make sure your body will be able to recover.
Try grilled chicken. Chicken contains lean protein and carbohydrates, which fills you up, sans the bloated feeling. You could add mixed vegetables with olive oil on the side to provide balance in the meal. This helps you in tip-top shape, too.
12. Tart Cherry Juice
Aside from the chocolate milk drink, tart cherry juice is an excellent post-workout drink.
It has antioxidants, which remove free radicals, which you could get during exercise. It also helps ease any inflammation, which makes your muscles sore.
According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, runners who drank 24 ounces of tart cherry juice reported fewer aches after their run. Make sure to go for the natural ones since artificially flavored fruit juices are high in fructose and could cause stomach cramps.
What you eat before and after workouts could affect your overall performance and your body’s ability to recover. Take note of these food and drinks to make the most out of your exercise.
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