Most professional athletes and their entourages, such as personal trainers, dietitians and nutritionists, know the right foods and formulas to ensure the most efficient training sessions. Knowing how to get the most out of a workout is imperative to most professionals, but for the mundane, everyday three mile runner, sometimes trying to figure out the best workout foods and when to consume them, can seem like a science disaster. It can be overwhelming and before you know it, that chocolate protein smoothie concoction you’ve blended with bananas, chia seeds, wheat germ, acai berry and any other health food persuasion, which was supposed to be light and energizing, has you feeling like a ship anchor and your stomach is in knots. However, eating the right foods before and after a workout doesn’t have to be alchemy. Sometimes, you just need the facts.
According to the MayoClinic, it’s important to eat breakfast if you work out in the morning. The energy your body stores form dinner the night before gets used as you sleep and it might not be enough to fuel your workout. However, if you choose breakfast, make sure you eat an hour to two hours before you start exercising or you could risk getting an upset stomach. Also, try eating more carbs for breakfast, such as whole grain cereal or bananas to get enough energy.
A professional sprinter probably doesn’t train an hour after a big, family meal. If you eat a large meal, wait at least three to four hours before exercising. If you eat a small meal, wait two to three hours before exercising. Working out too quickly after a big meal can make you feel tired and lethargic, but exercises should be somewhat enjoyable, not forceful.
Eat foods lower on the glycemic index
According to an article on EatingWell.com, a pre-workout food lower on the glycemic index helps burn more fat and controls blood sugar spikes. Carbs are important fuel for workouts, but instead of white bread and rice, choose whole grains with fiber and a protein option, such as peanut butter. Fruit and nuts are also great pre-workout foods that are low on the glycemic index.
Eat protein and carbs after a workout
The MayoClinic website states meals should be consumed within two hours of a workout to restore glycogen in muscles, which aids in muscle recovery. A good meal with meat, vegetables and some carbs is a good choice. However, if you’re in a hurry, you can opt for a fruit smoothie with protein powder.
The best formula is the one that works better for you. Everyone is different and if you’re not a breakfast eater, you can always choose to eat after your workout, as long as it’s within 2 hours and contains protein and carbs. Remember, being healthy means getting a well-rounded diet. Don’t leave out carbs because you think their harder to burn. If you eat low glycemic carbs, you’ll burn more fat during a workout and wont “crash” afterward. For a list of low glycemic foods click here.