When we do weight training we need fuel for our muscles. When we eat beforehand, it gives our bodies the fuel we need to work our bodies better. If you don't have the fuel in your system, you can have a less than optimal workout. Think of your body like a car. That car is not going to get you very far if the engine has no fuel in it!
Generally, the closer you eat to your workout the smaller you want it to be. So if you are waking up and going straight to the gym, then you may want to go with a simple piece of toast (Ezekiel bread) with almond butter or an egg or something else light. If you have eaten a heavy meal, you may want to wait a couple hours. Or, if you do morning workouts and really hate eating before your workout, then you may be able to eat a late night snack to help fuel your morning. Many prefer to eat before a workout, but if you absolutely cannot do it, test out the late night snack and see how that works for you. Make sure your morning snack or meal has carbohydrates in it. This is the body’s favored source of energy, and will give you more of the boost you would like to get a great workout in.
After you workout, your body’s muscle fibers have been broken down and need the proper nutrients to repair. It is important we get fuel into our systems reasonably fast after our workout. There are differences of opinion on how fast you need to do this. Aim to eat within at least 60 minutes after your workout, but if you can get it in sooner that is even better.
Get some protein and complex carbohydrates in your before and after meal. If you are working out first thing in the morning, then have breakfast afterward. You can do eggs and some whole grain toast (Ezekiel bread), whole grain cereal such as quinoa or fruit. If you are working out later in the day, then some lean protein and rice or quinoa may be a good choice. Just remember we are truly made of what we eat, and your body rapidly absorbs the nutrients eaten after a workout. So make sure the food you eat is quality food.
When we eat after a workout, we are replenishing our ATP stores, which is the energy we use for activity. If you do not eat after workouts, you may start to see a slow decline in the amount of energy you are having in your workouts and possibly in your overall day. This will continue to decline day after day if you do not refuel yourself, which will eventually lead to a crash.
Make sure to also rehydrate during and after a workout, especially if it is a long one. Dehydration can cause some big or minor fatigue issues, but the continuation of dehydration can make a big difference in your performance and energy levels. Remember the body is comprised of approximately 60% water, so if you are low on it that can make a big difference on how the machine that is your body is running.
Many people do protein shakes before and after workouts. Whole foods are preferred, but if protein shakes work well with your systems then go for it. Make sure if you are doing protein shakes after your workout that you also add a complex carb to it if it does not have complex carbs in it already. Be careful not to add tons and tons of fruit, because you are still loading your system with sugar when you eat fruit. So eat it and enjoy it, but only one or two pieces is sufficient. You do not need a blender full of 10 servings of fruit. Some people also add oats to their shakes for the carbs they need. If you are going to do protein shakes, then read what is in your protein powder, and make sure it is something that is as pure as possible. In other words, watch the fillers and sugars.
- What have you been eating before your workouts?
- How can you change that to be better?
- What are you eating after you workout? How soon after?
- What better fuel could you choose?
Start fueling your body before and after your workouts. You may think that it has not made a big difference to you, but it does eventually catch up with you. If you treat your body right and fuel it up with quality foods, then it will give you more performance for many years to come.