You’re only the gym about an hour per day at most. It’s what you do—and eat—outside of your workouts that will really make a big difference.
When it comes to your food, it’s totally possible to maximize your body’s ability to burn fat, build muscle, and gain endurance thanks to the type and timing of your pre- and post-workout meals.
Check Out Some of Our Pre and Post Workout Snack Tips:
While some people can tolerate working out on an empty stomach (which may offer its own fat burning benefits), eating a small snack about an hour before a long workout can help you keep up the intensity during exercise.
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Try something like a carb and protein combination, like a hard-boiled egg and a palmful of blueberries, a half cup of 4% milk fat cottage cheese mixed with hydrolyzed collagen and some strawberries, or half of a healthy simple protein bar. If you can tolerate caffeine, you may want to try drinking a cup of coffee within an hour of your workout, too (although skip this if you workout afternoon, to prevent sleep problems).
After exercise (especially intense strength-training), your body is highly sensitive to insulin, which means its primed to control your level of blood sugar appropriately. Your post-workout bod is also in need of fuel to adequately replenish your muscles, which convert food into glycogen. This will help your muscles repair and grow during your recovery period (aka, get stronger).
So, if you’ve done heavy weightlifting, high-intensity interval training, or a longer aerobic workout, try to get about 20-30 grams of protein into your system within 30-45 minutes after your workout ends. Some carbs and a little bit of fat are fine, too.
We love: protein shakes, a slice of quality deli meat and melon, or chicken or egg salad in lettuce cups.
Rest/Active Recovery Days
On days you don’t work out (and yes, there should be days where you don’t workout!), you may find that you need less food, since you aren’t burning quite as many calories. To help you prepare for your next workout and help your heart, lungs, and muscles recover, be sure to drink lots of water and eat lots of nutrient-dense foods (including unlimited veggies, chicken, fish, and eggs).
Have any favorite pre- and post-workout fuel of your own? Let us know about it in the comments below!