So one of the most common questions I get, especially from my female clients, is what should I eat before and after a workout? It is crazy to me because I do get a lot of people that train without eating a little something and then end up getting sick during the session. Now everyone is different. I for instance, can do cardio on empty stomach (although I do drink aminos), but if I lift weights I must eat at least a 30 min to an hour prior.
Ample energy and a steady stomach are two keys to a great workout. But people often skip pre-exercise meals due to lack of time or not knowing what to eat, No more excuses…I am going to give you some great tips and food options to choose from so that you are making the most of your workouts.
Timing is everything. Even the best foods can come back to haunt you mid-workout if not allowed to properly digest, so it’s best to eat 30 minutes to an hour before you work out—longer after heavy meals. While certain foods settle well and hit the bloodstream quickly, exercising on a full stomach can still make you feel sluggish. Worse, it can cause stomach cramps, because exercise pulls blood away from stomach to the muscles…so lighter meals before you workout and if you are following the 5-6 small meals a day protocol then this shouldn’t be a problem.
The tummy friendly options have ideal amounts of carbs and protein to keep you fueled, and they’re easy to prepare on the go. These are MY go to pre workout meals and often I treat them as a meal.
The ideal pre workout meal has five characteristics:
- Low fat (hard to digest) – so stay away from pizza, fries etc.
- Moderate in carbohydrates and higher protein
- Low fiber- slows down digestion
- Contains fluids
- Made up of familiar, well-tolerated foods.
A whole-wheat bagel with jam: Simple carbs burn quickly, like paper, while complex carbs burn like wood and take a little longer to provide energy. An easy-to-digest whole-grain bagel with jam or a drizzle of honey combines both types of carbs—a perfect way to fuel your workout from start to finish.
Protein shake with added carbs: Protein shakes are an easy on-the-go snack, and a good way to reap protein’s benefits while adding carbs to stay energized. I recommend starting with a shake base of water or unsweetened almond milk, then adding oats or a banana or other fruit to provide carbs.
Oatmeal: It’s great for those morning workouts, when you’re running on empty but can’t eat a meal 1 to 2 hours before exercise. It settles well and provides long-lasting energy, while adding whey protein to it will add the fast digesting protein you need.
Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt contains substantial protein and carbs, and less sugar than the regular kind. And unless you’re lactose intolerant, it’s easy on the stomach—ideal before intense activity or bouncing exercises like jumping jacks or plyometrics, which tend to spell tummy trouble after a heavy meal. Add fruit, honey, or whole-grain cereal for an extra energy kick.
Brown rice with chicken: If you tend to exercise after lunch or dinner, avoid rich foods and have a simple dish of brown rice with chicken. It’s a bland meal that sits well and provides a good amount of carbs and protein.
Whole grain Bread with egg whites: its’ easy on the stomach and provides protein and slow-release carbs.
Good luck with training and stick to your goals! You will get there and remember if you fail to plan then plan to fail!
Thanks for reading!