If you don’t have enough to eat before you exercise, you may not have enough gas in the tank. You might burn fewer calories, too. Nutrition becomes an especially important part of your routine when you work out regularly. It not only fuels your increased physical activity but also provides the raw materials for building and repairing muscle fibers. Because these tissues are rich in protein, including enough of nutrients in your diet can help you reach your fitness goals. In addition, the timing of protein consumption can make a difference in building muscle and post-workout recovery. Check out my favorites:
1. Grab a Banana
Don’t have much time before you head to the gym? Eat an apple or a banana 5 or 10 minutes before your workout for some quick, natural energy.
Your body easily digests these carbohydrates and turns them into the energy you need for exercise. Also, fruit is packed with helpful nutrients. For those training for a race, bananas are perfect for raising potassium levels. which drop when you sweat a lot.
What would we do without eggs? It's a dietary mainstay, not only for breakfast but pre and post workout it's a great quick go to. Tip: Boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and keep refrigerated for a grab and go!
3. Energy Bar in the Afternoon
When you’re working out later in the day, have a small snack about an hour before you get started. A sports bar that has 200 calories or less is a good option.
Look for a bar with low-fiber content, ideally 3 grams or less. Too much fiber before a workout can upset your stomach.
On the ingredients list, keep an eye out for sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt, and mannitol. Too much of these ingredients can give you cramps or diarrhea.
4. Grilled Chicken at Mealtime
When you exercise regularly, you need more protein than people who don’t, especially after a workout. Your body uses it to repair muscles, to make blood cells, and for many other purposes. For lunch or dinner, serve a leaner source, like grilled chicken or turkey, instead of something like a cheeseburger.
5. A Bowl of Berries
After a workout, go for these instead of a bottle of juice. A lot of the fiber in whole fruits is lost as they become juice.
Blueberries, in particular, have been shown to reduce muscle soreness from strenuous exercise. Cherries are another good option. But any berry will likely help.
6. Veggies and Hummus
When you exercise regularly, it’s all too easy to overestimate how many calories you’ve burned. An intense, hour-long bike ride could burn 590 calories, but a more leisurely one might only use 290.
While you might feel like you’ve earned a cookie, it’s better to snack on fruits and vegetables. After you work out, pair your produce with protein to help you feel more full and replenish muscles. Try vegetables with hummus or fruit with Greek yogurt.
7. Water or a Sports Drink
Hydration is a must when you exercise. Often, water is all you need. But it depends on what you are doing. If your activity is less than 60 minutes, sip small amounts of water often to replace lost fluids. But when your workout is intense and lasts longer than an hour, a sports drink could help your hydration and your performance. Just keep an eye on the calories and sugar, like with any other drink, especially if you want to lose weight.