Eating Before and After Your Workout

By Kevin Charles

Choosing if and what to eat before and after your workout can be tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want to show up full to an intense workout, only to end up feeling nauseous five minutes into it and. On the other hand, you don’t want to show up to your workout on an empty stomach and feel sluggish the entire time and then ravenous for the rest of the day.

There are also those who will tell you that exercising on an empty stomach burns more fat than carbohydrates, you’ll still be burning fewer calories in total because you won’t have the energy to work hard. In the end, the goal really is to burn more calories in total and not worry where those calories came from.

Now that we’ve determined that you should eat something, the question remains what and how much to eat. The Mayo Clinic suggests eating large meals at least three hours before exercising, small meals at least two hours before exercising and small snacks an hour before your workout. Choose one of these options and make sure that your meal or snack includes both protein and carbohydrates to give your muscles all the nutrients they’ll need for the work that lies ahead. Examples of quick snacks are fruit and almonds, whole grain bagel with peanut butter or fruit yogurt.

What about after your workout, you ask? Your workout actually breaks down muscle so it’s important to eat something to stop this breakdown and to encourage muscle growth and recovery. Try to eat something within 30 minutes post-exercise. The American Dietetic Association recommends consuming 1 – 1.5 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight to replenish glycogen in muscles and 10 – 20 grams of lean protein to help repair muscle tissue. Some great post-workout meal suggestions include protein shakes, bananas and nut butter or even a glass of good old chocolate milk