Our bodies need food for energy for basic functions like breathing, keeping our hearts beating, growing and repairing muscles, and just staying healthy. Naturally, you’ll need food to fuel your workouts and ensure your body is able to properly recover from them. It will also help you gain strength and endurance both from and during your workout. Every person’s body is different. There is no “one size fits all” solution to what to eat, but we’re bringing you a few best practices to be aware of while you work out your body’s exact needs.
You need to eat before your workout to give your body the energy it needs for movement, endurance, and muscle-building. However, the closer to your workout you eat, the simpler the meal should be to help your body digest it before your workout starts.
The ideal practice is eating 2 to 3 hours before a workout. You should have a full meal of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat.
If you’re unable to eat a full meal or don’t have that much time before hitting the gym, it’s still important to have a decent meal. If you eat 45–60 minutes before working out, easy-to-digest foods – primarily composed of carbohydrates and a small amount of protein – are your best bet.
If you’re having a quick workout early in the morning, it’s okay to have something small like fruit, yogurt, or a protein bar – just be wary of processed bars with excess sugar.
When you work out, your body’s glycogen stores are depleted and proteins within your body can degrade and be harmed. It’s important to eat adequately after a workout to support your body in restoring its energy levels (glycogen) and assist in protein synthesis to repair and restore muscles.
A sufficient amount of protein post-workout will help your body repair and build muscle. Glycogen is your body’s main source of energy and consuming complex carbohydrates after a workout is the best way to rebuild your glycogen levels.
Fat is not ideal to consume after a workout because there is some speculation it may slow digestion and inhibit nutrient absorption. However, a little bit of fat in your post-workout meal shouldn’t affect your recovery.
Another important thing to consider with your post-workout meals is timing. Your body’s ability to restore glycogen levels and rebuild protein is at its highest after a workout, so consuming sufficient amounts of carbohydrates and protein soon after your workout is ideal.
Water is always essential for us to keep ourselves feeling healthy and our bodies functioning properly. It’s especially important to stay hydrated during a workout as we lose water when we sweat. The higher-intensity your workout is, the more water you should drink, but small frequent sips of water are recommended for everyone – no matter the type of workout.
Your body requires electrolytes, which are vital minerals, to assist in maintaining blood pressure, neuronal signaling, muscle contraction (including heart contraction), and many other essential bodily processes.
Additionally, they help your body retain fluid when you are exercising vigorously and perspiring, which helps to keep joints lubricated and maintain your vitality, preventing exhaustion from dehydration.
It’s advisable to drink both electrolytes before and after exercising to accommodate the healing and restoration process and keep your body feeling healthy.
There are specific foods especially good for you after a workout when it comes to soothing sore muscles and supporting the body’s recovery. Some examples are fatty fish, which have many of the nutrients your body needs for muscle recovery, and pomegranate juice, which has a high concentration of polyphenols with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Conversely, there are certain foods you may want to avoid for a few hours after a workout. Muscle pain comes with inflammation, so inflammatory high-sugar foods are best kept for when your muscles are recovered. The same can be said for things that dehydrate you, such as alcohol, as maintaining water levels after a workout aids muscle recovery.
Working out is excellent for us in many ways. It can help us lose fat, gain muscle, and build endurance, on top of being excellent for our mental health. However, it can be strenuous and energy-consuming, so it’s important to support our bodies in performing these functions and healing properly afterwards. Check out our blog at buzzfitdev.wpengine.com for more health tips and exercise tricks.