What to Eat Before and After a Workout

In the 1980s, pre-workout nutrition was all about carb loading. Athletes who had a heavy workout were ready to feast on all the lasagna, fettuccine and garlic bread they wanted. Fast forward to today, and the pre-workout nutrition advice has changed a bit. Instead of relying on white carbs, experts recommend eating complex carbs combined with protein.

Whether you are getting ready for a long walk around the neighborhood, a brisk swim at the Y or a more strenuous exercise session at the gym, the following nutrition guide helps you decide what and when to eat before and after your workout:

Timing Is Crucial

In general, it is not a good idea to eat right before you head out the door for a walk or jog because your stomach and digestive process will compete with your muscles and reduce your performance level. Eating too soon before exercising can also give you a stomachache. Instead, you should eat one to three hours before working out. Play around with these times and find one that works best for you and your body.

Effective Pre-Workout Foods

Shoot for high-quality carbs and protein prior to working out. Some terrific and scrumptious suggestions include a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread, an apple with almond butter, a container of Greek yogurt with a handful of berries or an egg with multi-grain toast. These food combos provide your pre-workout system with a nice amount of carbs that will keep you chugging along as well as protein that will help the amino acids get into your muscles.

As a bonus, unlike the huge plates of spaghetti that tended to cause carb crashes in the middle of exercising, these tasty suggestions will keep your blood sugar on an even keel and provide you with a steady source of nutrition throughout your workout.

Post-Workout Suggestions

While you might be tempted to reach for a bag of Doritos and cold Gatorade once your workout is over, opt for some better quality nutrition. The main purpose of the post-workout meal is to help your body recover from everything you did while exercising. More specifically, the foods should help replenish the glycogen in your muscles, reduce the muscle protein breakdown that took place and lessen the chances of feeling sore and tired.

Once again, the one-two nutritional punch of carbs and protein are what your body needs. The key is to consume them as soon as possible once the workout is over. Try to eat a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein shortly after your workout, following up with a regular meal around 3 hours later. One great way to get nutrition into your body quickly is to have a protein shake or smoothie. Look for a protein powder that includes both fast-digesting whey protein and slow-digesting casein protein, such as XS Sports Protein Powder from Amway. Other great post-workout food suggestions include turkey, avocado, lettuce and tomato on a wheat wrap or a mix of raisins and nuts.

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