Here's how to eat better for better workout results.
Because housing a bag of cheese puffs after your run is apparently not the most productive strategy.
What you eat before and after exercising can make a huge difference in your workout and your results.
Fueling up with the proper foods can keep your energy levels up, prevent muscle loss, and actually help build muscle. Basically, it can make or break your workout. So to learn more about how your food impacts your fitness.
Let’s get into it!
We all need carbohydrates, protein, and fat — aka macronutrients.
Macronutrients provide you with the energy (calories) your body needs for daily functions — everything from thinking and speaking to walking and exercising.
Carbs provide you with the energy you need to get through a workout, protein helps repair your muscles after a workout (and preserve muscle mass during a workout), and fat is important for immune function, helping with the absorption of certain vitamins.
According to the experts, there’s an ideal ratio of carbs/protein/fat that will give you the most bang for your buck. But that ratio will change depending on your workout. Luckily, they gave us snack and meal options for each of these types of activities:
• Steady state cardio — Running, cycling, rowing, elliptical or any other cardio activity that you’re doing for longer than a half hour and at a moderate intensity (like a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10).
• Strength training — Any kind of resistance training (bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, etc.) for 45 minutes to an hour at an intensity of about 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.
• High-intensity interval training — Any activity where you are alternating a period of hard work (at an intensity of about an 8 or higher) with a period of rest or recovery for about 20 minutes or so.
If you’re doing steady state cardio, your pre-and post-workout meals should be heavy in carbs.
Carbs will give you the energy to last your entire workout, plus it’ll help you refill those depleted carb stores after your workout.
If you’re lifting weights, you’ll want to cut down on the amount of carbs and increase your protein and fat.
“Weightlifting places a big demand on muscle tissue, so getting protein is important for preventing muscle loss and stimulating muscle growth,” St. Pierre says. “You want to eat fewer carbs because you’re using less glucose [than if you were doing a longer cardio workout]. And then refuel enough to make sure you’re replenishing what you used during training.”
Ditto for short, high-intensity workouts:
Even though a short, high-intensity workout won’t use the same amount of fuel as weightlifting would during the workout, the higher intensity means once the workout is over, your body will need more energy as it burns calories at an accelerated rate. This is referred to as the “afterburn effect,” when your body is trying to get back enough oxygen to regulate your body temperature, restore blood oxygen levels, and restore muscle tissue
1. Take your pre-workout meal just as seriously as the post-workout meal.
You shouldn’t focus on one without the other because they work together.
2. Try to eat your meals within one to two hours of your workout.
While it’s up to personal preference, it’s important to give your body time to digest your pre-workout food and also to get fuel into your system quickly post-workout so your body can refill it’s glycogen stores (what carbs are turned into) and repair the muscles that you used during your workout.
3. If you get mega-hungry after you exercise, try scheduling your meals around your workouts.
The post-workout hunger is REAL.
4. But don’t sweat the details, just make sure you’re eating mostly whole, minimally processed, foods.
Alright, time to get eating!!!