Time It Right
Aim to have a snack or mini meal 1 to 3 hours before your workout. You can have tummy troubles if you chow down right before. That’s because more blood goes to your muscles during exercise, leaving less for digestion. After exercise, your body is ready to refuel and rebuild muscle tissue. Eat or drink within an hour of finishing.
Before: Oatmeal with Low-Fat Milk & Fruit
Do you work out in the morning? Start your day with a bowl of high-fibre, whole grain oatmeal and fruit. Your body digests the carbs in this combo more slowly, so your blood sugar stays steadier. You’ll feel energised for longer. For an extra dose of protein and bone-building calcium, stir in some low-fat milk.
Before: Fruit and Yoghurt Smoothie
Smoothies are easy to digest, so you won’t feel sluggish during your workout. But many store-bought versions are high in added sugar. Whip up your own version with protein-rich yogurt and fruit, which packs in energy-boosting carbs. Blend it with water or ice to help you stay hydrated. Research shows that not getting enough fluids can zap your strength and endurance.
Before: Trail Mix
It’s known as a hiking staple, but trail mix is a good snack for any workout. Raisins give you a quick hit of energy that’s easy on the stomach. Mix a small handful of them with a few almonds, which are high in protein and heart-healthy unsaturated fat. They also have an antioxidant that may help your body use oxygen better -- and give you better exercise results.
After: Egg and Whole-Wheat Toast
The toast’s carbs put back the energy you burned during exercise, while its fibre keeps your blood sugar levels even. Serve it with an egg to boost your results. They’re a complete protein, which means they have all nine of the essential amino acids your body uses to build muscle. No time for a post-workout scramble? Pack a hard-boiled egg with a whole-grain roll or crackers.
After: Greek Yoghurt and Fruit
One cup of this creamy treat offers 20 grams of protein. You can add even more nutrition by topping your bowl with fruit to add energy-boosting carbs. If you use antioxidant-rich blueberries, you’ll get even more benefit. Research shows that eating them after a workout can help with the muscle inflammation brought on by exercise.
After: Chicken, Brown Rice, and Veggies
There’s a reason skinless chicken breast is thought of as a slim-down food: Half of one packs in 27 grams of protein in only 142 calories. It also has a lot of vitamin B-6, a nutrient important for your immune system. Serve it with brown rice and veggies for the right combination of carbs and nutrients.
Before, During, and After: Drink Up!
Make sure you have plenty of water. How much? Use the following guidelines:
- Before exercise: About 2 to 3 cups
- During exercise: About 1/2 to 1 cup every 15 to 20 minutes
- After exercise: About 2 to 3 cups for every pound you lose during exercise (you can weigh yourself before and after your workout).
After: Sports Drink?
If you exercise for an hour or less, water is all you need to stay hydrated. But if you go for longer, you need to replace electrolytes. These are minerals, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, that help you stay hydrated. You lose them when you sweat. Look for a drink that has electrolytes, like a sports beverage or coconut water.