It’s probably the question I get most often– what should I eat before and after a workout?
I love that people are asking this because it means they understand the importance of fuelling for a workout. Think of your body as a car. Your muscles are the engine and the food you eat is the fuel. In the same way that you would fill up on gas before a long road trip, you need to give your body the fuel it requires before a workout.
WHAT TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT?
Does this sound familiar? You’re on your way to workout, but your stomach is rumbling. You think that putting any food in your stomach will make you feel sick during your workout.
You’ve heard that you need carbs before a workout. But you think to yourself, “If I eat too many carbs before my workout, won’t I just be eating back the calories I want to burn?” Choosing a pre-workout food is confusing!
But rest assured, eating carbs before a workout isn’t bad for you. As a matter of fact, carbohydrates provide energy for exercise. Your body converts the carbs you eat into glucose, which is stored as glycogen in your muscles. When you engage in exercise, your muscles use this glycogen as the primary fuel source.
That said, having the right sources of carbs at the right time is key to using this food as fuel, rather than storing it as fat. In simple terms, what you eat comes down to when you eat.
What to eat 1 - 2 hours before a workout
This pre-workout meal should be a mixture of carbohydrates and protein with a little bit of fat. The combination of these three nutrients will provide long lasting energy, which will power you through your workout later in the day. Some examples include:
Oats is a carb-rich food that provides long lasting energy. Just 1 cup of oats contains approximately 32 grams of carbs, and since it’s a whole grain, it takes longer to digest. That means it will fuel you for at least an hour of exercise.
Pair oats with fruit, like 1 medium-sized banana, which has 27 grams of carbs. Top it with milk and peanut butter–both have a mixture of protein and fat to help keep you full throughout a workout and repair muscles.
1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup water
pinch salt (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon (extra for topping)
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut shreds
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips/pieces
2 tbsp sugar free maple syrup
Cook the oatmeal according to the package directions with salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Top cooked oatmeal with peanut butter, coconut shreds, chocolate pieces/chips, maple syrup, and fresh fruit. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and enjoy!
2. Breakfast Burritos
If you’re focused on strength training workouts, a high-protein meal before your workout will help to improve muscle recovery and increase lean body mass.
Eggs are a great source of protein, and every large egg has 6 grams. Pairing eggs with a starch provides protein and complex carbs.
Don't have any time to prepare breakfast in the morning? These make-ahead Mushroom Freezer Breakfast Burritos are for you. I prepare a big batch at the beginning of the week, freeze them and microwave in the morning for a hearty breakfast that is jam packed with nutrients.
2 tablespoons oil canola, vegetable, grapeseed or rice brand.
½ white onion diced
2 garlic clove minced
2 cups mushrooms chopped
4 cups loosely packed spinach chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
8 large eggs
3 tablespoons of milk
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large whole wheat tortillas
¼ cup light cheddar cheese
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add oil to pan. Add the onion, garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they are golden brown (about 3-4 minutes). Flip the mushrooms, so the other side can cook. Place the spinach in the pan and cook until it’s wilted or about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and stir all the veggies together. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat another large skillet over medium heat. Spray the skillet with cooking spray and add egg mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the eggs have set. Remove from heat.
Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 10 seconds (they are easier to roll when warm). Lay out the tortillas on four separate pieces of aluminium foil and spread some cheese on each tortilla. Evenly distribute the roasted vegetables and scrambled eggs among the four tortillas. Roll each one up in the foil and place in a freezer bag. Freeze.
3. Blueberry Pre-workout Smoothie
Smoothies are an ideal snack pre-workout as they are a cinch to make, portable, easy to digest and deliver the necessary nutrients to your muscles quickly. They also allow the time between eating and working out to be shortened, a lot. In my experience, 30 minutes are sufficient to avoid the unpleasant risk of throwing-up.
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup / 150 gr plain yogurt
2 tablespoons organic raw honey (optional)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 scoop of protein powder ( I use Vanilla flavour)
1 teaspoon spirulina (optional)
In a blender, combine blueberries, yogurt, honey, chia seeds, ice and spirulina (if using). It’s easy.
Blend until smooth. Enjoy immediately.
WHAT DO I EAT 30 MINS BEFORE WORKING OUT
If you less than an hour or even 30 minutes before a workout to put some “gas in the tank”, reach for an easy to digest carb-rich snack. Try to avoid anything that has too much fiber, since that takes a while to digest. Here are some more quick pre-workout options:
Fruit is mostly carbs, which means it quickly delivers much needed sugar to the bloodstream. Basically any piece of fruit will help give you energy before a workout, and many athletes opt for bananas, berries or apples.
JOIN MY NUTRITION PROGRAM AND LEARN HOW YOU CAN DOUBLE YOUR RESULTS FROM EXERCISE JUST BY INCORPORATING THE CORRECT FOODS PRE AND POST WORKOUT.