Pre and Post Workout Meals or Snacks which are right before or right after working out. These meals are crucial and help to improve your performance and results, for instance, to burn fat and to gain muscles, to increase strength and to be healthier. So what you eat before you work out acts as fuel or energy to maximize during your workout session. What you eat after is important to optimize muscle recovery which basically begins as soon as your workout ends and never ever work out on an empty stomach. Working out on an empty stomach is like trying to drive a car without gas. Your workout will suffer because you will not have enough energy to sustain it or you will be too distracted by hunger to keep focus. Let’s start by understanding pre-workout snacks
Pre-workout snacks are also known as “Energy Phase” because they play the largest role in providing your body with maximum energy in order for you to work out at 100% effort. In order for this to happen, we want to fill our body with meals which are heavy on carbs and a little bit of protein. Because carb is the best source of energy and they digest easily. Pre-workout snacks I would be sharing with you are light, small and easy to digest. It is suitable to be consumed 30-60 minutes before your workout. If you are planning to have a big and heavy meal, have a balanced meal of carb, healthy fat and protein for at least 3 hours before working out. Here are examples of pre-workout snacks:
Whole –wheat Toast with Peanut Butter and Banana. Whole wheat toast will provide you complex carbs which are especially important for workout endurance. Bananas are also great source of carbs and they are perfect for raising potassium levels which tend to drop when you sweat a lot. And peanut butter is high in protein and it digest easily.
The next snack is Greek Yogurt with Fruits. What I have here are frozen berries. Yogurt provides you with carbs and protein to keep you energized. And the added fruits contain natural sugar for extra energy boost and feel free to change for another fruits of your choice.
Do you want something refreshing and light; I will share with you High Protein Fruit Smoothies. Blend 1 cup of frozen berries or your favorite fruits with 1 cup of water and 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder. Having a liquid based snack when you work out will make it easy for your body to digest and the water content will keep your body hydrated for a better workout performance. And add a little bit of protein powder prior to workout will help to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. So try it out!
And the next snack is Dressed up Oatmeal. Oatmeal is popular choice for long runs or long cardio. And it provides energy throughout your workout by gradually releasing sugar into your blood stream. You can choose to top the oatmeal with fresh fruits, peanut butter, whole nuts, egg, or cocoa powder.
If you like something special like me why not try egg with toast. This is my regular breakfast and also mainly my pre-workout snack. One or two whole wheat toasts with one half white egg. Egg is excellent source of protein. It keeps you satisfied and it is much easier to digest in comparison to meat. Meat is something you should try to avoid as pre-workout snack as it takes much longer to digest and it will weight your down during your workout session. So try egg on toast instead.
If you don’t have time and you want a quick snack which you can eat on the move, you can try dried fruits and whole nuts. You can pack it in a container and bring out with you. The healthy sugar from dried fruits will provide you with a quick energy boost while nuts will keep your insulin levels from dropping during your workout session. Nuts are high in healthy fat which means they take longer to digest. Remember to have it in moderation and a small handful is small enough as your pre-workout snack.
Another quick pre-workout snack which I often make is Peanut Butter Oatmeal and Energy Bar. This energy bar contains all natural ingredients needed for an excellent workout. Oatmeal, peanut butter and honey for workout endurance and for a quick energy boost. So you can make it beforehand and this can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. So try it out!
Other easy and quick pre-workout snacks can include all kinds of fruits, cottage cheese with crackers, caffeine which is known to boost your metabolism and to improve performance endurance and many different kinds of whole food which is high in carbs.
Let’s move on to post-workout meals and snacks. Your post-workout meal is the first meal you have after your workout session which is also known as “Anabolic Phase”. Having the right post-workout meal will help with increasing muscle mass to reduce fatigue and muscle soreness and with overall recovery. To achieve this, we want to refuel our body with high protein and a little bit of carbs. Protein consists of amino acid which builds muscle and help with recovery. Our muscle breaks down during a workout and needs to be rebuilt with protein. For these reasons, we are encouraged to consume our post-workout meal within 30-60 minutes right after a workout session. Our body is most ready to accept the carb and protein and to use these nutrients to rebuild, restore and recover. I like to schedule my big meal right after a workout session. For instance, I tend to work out mid-morning and to have my lunch straight after. Knowing that it is not always possible for all of us, I will show you some of examples of post-workout snacks and meals that you can try out. So let’s start with meal.
What I have here is basic grilled chicken with veggies. Your body is in recovery mood so you need nutrient dense dish. The lean protein in the grill chicken will fill you up without feeling over-bloated. And the veggies are high in fiber and keep you satisfied without over-eating.
The next meal is veggies omelet. What I have in here are broccoli, spinach, carrots, onions, 2 eggs, a little of olive oil. Again, eggs are great source of protein. They are light on your body and keep you satisfied and this is also a great choice for vegetarians.
Another post-workout meal is baked salmon with sweet potato chips which is my favorite because I love salmon and I love sweet potatoes. Salmon is a great source of protein with omega-3 and sweet potato chips is packed with complex carbs which helps to restore energy especially after an intense workout. If you are a vegan, you can substitute the salmon or the grilled chicken breast with peas or even chick peas.
Let’s move on some quick and light post-workout snack. What I have here are tuna chunks and red pumper hummus. Tuna is low in calories but high in protein. 100g of tuna only contains 99 cals and it has 23.5g of protein. Hummus is also low in calories and high in protein and it is a great vegan option to fulfill your protein requirement. So you can eat tuna, hummus with crackers or you can make a sandwich and pack it out with you. So there is no cooking required at all. And it is really convenient.
Chocolate lovers, it is for you. Recent studies have been shown chocolate milk is the latest craze in post-workout snack. This is because 1 cup of chocolate milk has everything you need. Carbs to restore your energy, protein for muscle recovery and water content to replace lost fluid from exercising. So chocolate lovers, after workout is the perfect time to indulge in a cup of hot chocolate milk.
Again, smoothie is also a great post-workout snack. It is delicious, convenient, and helps to replenish lost fluid from exercising. Add a little bit of spinach into my smoothie.
The easiest and most convenient way to refuel your body with protein is drinking protein shake. Each scoop of protein powder has an average of 24g of protein. And protein shake is not just for men. You can choose to mix 1 scoop of protein powder with water or with milk for extra carbs and protein. If you are a man or you are much bigger in size, and then go for 2 scoops.
A quick post-workout snack is protein bar. Just be aware of the sugar content, go for protein bar with 10-30g of protein, less than 10g of sugar. With minimal amount of ingredients you cannot pronounce.
So these are some examples of post-workout meals and snacks. If you find out the portion are too small, you can always add vegetables, rice, couscous, potato, vegetable soup and more. The portion depends on your personally requirement. Most of these meals can be prepared beforehand for convenient.
Try it out because they will make a significant difference to your workout performance and results. As a basic guideline you remember to fill your body with carbs, energy and to refill your body with protein for recovery. The more basic the foods are, the better they will be for your body. Always remember to stay hydrated before, during and after your workout. So carry a bottle of water with you at all times.