Let’s admit it – getting in the habit of exercising can be tough. Developing an exercise routine requires preparation and thoughtful timing on your behalf. For those who are new to exercise, this first step is often filled with challenges and unanswered questions. One question in particular that many people want to know is, “what should I eat before and after I exercise?”
When it comes to knowing what you should and shouldn’t eat before and after working out most people are in the dark. It seems like everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion differs depending on what they’re trying to do.
Understanding basic rules around eating and exercising can greatly enhance your comfort level while you’re being active. Both, eating before and after exercise, is good for performance, fitness, and health. Factors such as how long you exercise, the type of exercise, experience level, and general health situations play an important role.
With so many different recommendations floating around about exercise, nutrition and hydration, here are simple tips and tricks to pre and post workout eating.
Two hour rule
Allow two hours for your body to digest after a significant meal. Plunging into a workout on a full stomach will leave you uncomfortable and can prevent you from working out at the intensity level you had planned.
Curb your hunger
If you are worried about getting hungry during your workout, have a small snack before starting. Carbohydrates provide quick energy, so having yogurt, a granola bar, or fruit is a good option.
Drink when you’re thirsty
Hydration is important but unless you’re active over an extended period of time, there is no need to bring a water bottle to your workout. Proper hydration throughout the day and especially after a workout is more than enough. Click here to read more about how much water you actually need.
Chocolate Milk is a marketing myth
You may have heard that chocolate milk is a great way to refuel after a workout. Realistically, chocolate milk contains a lot of added sugars that are not always necessary for refuelling, particularly after short, low-intensity workouts. If you’re simply trying to replace lost fluids, stick with water. If you’ve had a long, hard workout, you’ll want to consume some carbs and proteins such as a banana, glass of regular milk, or a bagel with peanut butter.
Don’t cancel out your hard work
Be careful of overindulging after a workout. It is tempting to treat yourself to something unhealthy as a reward for exercising. Unless it is actually time for a meal, just stick to a small portion of carbs and/or protein, such as a banana or cheese.
Fuel requirements really depend on the intensity and length of your workout. Use your own discretion to determine how much food is appropriate. When in doubt, your stomach will tell you when you are hungry so don’t use a workout as an excuse to eat more than you need to!
What are you favourite go-to meals before and after your workout?