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What to Eat Before and After a Workout – Fueling for Fitness

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Hi there, I’m Janelle and I blog at  Run With No Regrets. Thanks so much to Kalee for the opportunity to guest post here at Sorey Fitness!

Today I’m talking about the importance of eating proper nutrition in order to optimize your workouts.   Please note that I am not a registered dietitian or medical professional, but I am sharing my personal experiences shaped by 2 years of consulting with a registered dietitian.   Please use these recommendations as a guideline and consult a medical professional if you have any concerns!

Fueling for Fitness – What to Eat Before and After a Workout

What to Eat Before and After a Workout - Fueling for Fitness

Before Your Workout

Have you ever gone on a weekend road trip with your best friends?  Did you fill up your tank with gas before you hit the road, or did you simply hop in the car and take off on your adventure without a worry or care?

While the second option sounds exciting in the moment, it probably isn’t as exciting when you’re stuck in traffic in the middle of the highway with your gas tank approaching “E” with the next exit 30 miles away.  Oops!

Now imagine the car is your body and the road trip is your workout.  Just like you need enough gas in your tank before you hit the road, you must consume the right amount of fuel before you work out!  This is how you ensure you’ll perform your best whether you’re running, cycling, or doing any other type of exercise.

Physical exercise expends a lot of energy, sometimes hundreds of calories per session depending on your workout, so you have to start out with a sufficient amount of fuel before you burn those calories!

Try having a small meal high in carbohydrates and low in protein approximately 2 hours before your workout.  Carbs are necessary for the body to use for its main source of fuel.  When sugars and starches are broken down, they get absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose. It’s the glucose in your blood that provides the fuel that you need.

But this doesn’t mean you should “carbo-load”!  Unless you’re running a marathon or triathlon and fairly advanced, it is often completely unnecessary and can do more harm than good!

Here are some suggestions for snack ideas pre-workout:

  • A cup of oatmeal
  • 8 oz of low-fat yogurt with fruit
  • Bagel with peanut butter and juice
  • Cereal with milk
  • Whole wheat toast with hard boiled egg

After Your Workout

Now your workout is done and you’ve burned a ton of calories!  You’ve effectively worked your muscles that will  break down and repair to get even stronger.  Great job getting it done!  But now you’re probably starving!  Immediately after your workout is the most important time to have your recovery fuel.

After a workout you should consume a protein and carbohydrate source ASAP in order to prevent that muscle breakdown and replenish your glycogen stores.

Here are some suggestions of post-recovery meals:

  • 8-10 ounces of low fat chocolate milk with 1 small banana
  • Protein shake with 10-20 grams of whey protein with 1 small banana
  • Turkey sandwich
  • Protein/green smoothie with low fat milk or yogurt
  • Pita and hummus

And What About During Your Workout?

  • If you’re working out for less than an hour:  No fuel needed!
  • If you’re working out longer than an hour or have a high intensity workout:  You may need a boost of calories depending on how long it is, so consider trying sports gels, fruit, a smoothie, or an energy bar – whatever works best for you.  

Don’t Forget to Hydrate!

Last, please don’t forget the importance of drinking water!  Drinking 64 ounces of water a day is a great start, but if you’re planning to work out, be sure to increase your daily intake even higher to ensure that your body performs at its best!  You can easily carry a water bottle with you to take to your workout class or on your run – check out any local sporting good store to find a great brand.

Just don’t drink too much because you may end up taking more trips to the potty than you’d like, which isn’t fun when you’re running a big race!  With practice, you’ll learn the amount of hydration you need depending on your activity and exertion levels.

I hope these tips are helpful to you as you take the steps to maintain your fitness and health!  What are your favorite snacks/sources of fuel before, after, and during a workout?

Again, I’m so happy to have dropped by!  If you’d like to learn more about healthy living, I’d love if you check me out at Run With No Regrets.   I share tips on race training, injury prevention, healthy eating, and lessons learned with new fitness challenges.  Find me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!  

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