How to Maximize Your Workout Results with Food


The secret to toning up and leaning out faster? It’s what you eat after and before your workout. Here’s how to maximize your workout results with food.

What to Eat Before a Workout

Before a workout, eating a small amount of complex carbs can help you perform better in class by giving you more energy. Not eating enough before a workout can make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or lethargic during the workout. Even if you don’t feel sick, you may find you don’t perform as well, as your endurance and strength can be compromised.

Some ideas for what to eat before a workout include:

  • Dates, bananas, pineapples, oranges, and grapes are some of the best choices because they are high in glucose and will top up your energy stores. They are light, and will not weigh you down, and are easy to digest. Fruit is your number one pre-workout snack, in my opinion.
  • A fruit and date bar, such as larabar.
  • A slice of gluten free toast with almond butter and sliced banana or apple on top.
  • Chia seed fruit smoothie. Chia offers sustained energy and is great particularly for endurance workouts. It also balances blood sugar and combats dehydration.

You don’t want to work out on a full stomach, as that can lead to cramps, and actually less energy, because you’re body is going to be sending blood to your stomach to digest the food, instead of oxygenating your extremities while you work out.

So, a small snack 1-2 hours before the workout is ideal.

What to eat before a workout

What to Eat if You Work Out First Thing in the AM?

If you work out right after you get up, and don’t want to eat beforehand, that’s OK (as long as you don’t have blood sugar regulation issues). Instead, drink 2-3 tall glasses of water to make sure you’re adequately hydrated (we get dehydrated when we sleep).

When you work out on an empty stomach, you do burn more fat, however, your performance will suffer in terms on endurance and strength. The water will help to a degree, but your best performance will come after being fueled with carbs.

What to Avoid Eating Before a Workout

What you want to avoid though, is anything high in fat or protein. Protein is needed to repair muscles, not fuel them, and fat slows down digestion.

You also want to avoid commercial protein bars or sports drinks- These are typically filled with artificial flavors, refined carbohydrates, denatured proteins, and sometimes even harmful fats, so they are not best thing to consume.
what to eat before a workout

What to Eat After a Workout to Build Muscle

What a lot of people don’t realize, is that your muscle building and firming actually takes place after your work out, not during. During the workout, your stretching and creating little tears in the muscles, and it’s after the workout, when your body repairs these tears, that you actually build and firm up the muscles.

So, here’s what to eat after a workout to build muscle and tone up faster:

  • Water is the most important thing you want to consume after you work out. Your body needs to be hydrated in order to repair and build muscle. If you’re dehydrated, you will not see results as quickly. So adequately drinking water before and after a workout is crucial
  • Protein. Post workout is when you need protein to repair the muscles. You ideally want to get about 10-20 grams of protein within 30 minutes, or up to two hours after a workout for best results. Some ideas include:
  • Complex Carbohydrates: Complex carbs replenish glycogen stores, so you can go ahead and do it again tomorrow. If you don’t get adequate carbs, tomorrow’s workout can feel harder. After working out you want to choose good carbs like vegetables, which are the best choice, and whole grains. You want to avoid refined grains.

Aim to eat a nutritious meal or shake that contains the above within 30 minutes of finishing the workout, as that is when muscles are most receptive to repairing and restoring energy and glycogen. If you are unable to have full meal within that frame, at least try and get a protein smoothie in right after, and then have a full meal later within next 2-4 hours.

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Hi, I’m Maria and I’m an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.

I help busy women lose weight or clear up their acne by developing healthier eating habits, based on a plant-based paleo diet.

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