Leah’s note: I’m currently enjoying the sun in Phoenix with family! Susan generously offered up a guest post to keep you entertained while I’m frolicking with cacti! Enjoy!
Hello Leftovers lovers! My name is Susan and I come from a little piece of the interweb called The Great Balancing Act. Leah has asked me to share some musings with you today while she is off gallivanting. I of course obliged because I <3 Leah and I <3 blogging! When not blogging, I work as a personal trainer and in a specialty running store. I live and breathe fitness, while also spending excessive amounts of time eating and thinking about delicious food. I wanted to keep up Leah’s food theme, but bring my own fitness twist to it. Thus, today I am babbling all about foods to eat before and after a workout.
There are a number of rules and rumours surrounding what you should and shouldn’t eat around your gym visits. It can get quite scientific. But I am a strong believer in that you should do whatever works best for your body. Some people have a stomach of steel and can run 5k after a plate of spaghetti. Others can barely stomach the thought of orange juice before a run.
The take home point here is that you most certainly need to fuel your workouts. It doesn’t have to be huge, sometimes just 100 calories will do the trick. I know it seems counter-productive to take in calories when you’re trying to burn them. But you’ll be way more energetic with some gas in your tank and your body will be way more efficient with it. My favourite pre-workout snack is a piece of whole wheat bread + peanut butter + jam. The jam provides simple sugars for an instant hit of energy, the whole wheat bread provides some longer lasting carbs, and the peanut butter sticks to my belly to keep it from rumbling mid workout. Be forewarned, not everyone can do a high-fat food like nuts before a workout. It can cause gastrointestinal issues! A good one is a little cup of yogurt. Again, be weary of artificial sweeteners in case they give you gas. But the naturally occurring sugars in dairy and fruit are a great energy boost paired with a little dairy protein. Another favourite banana + PB. High sugar with a small amount of fat & protein to fill my belly. M&M’s optional Along the same lines are dates + PB… …or dates + PB smushed on a Wasa cracker A piece of a homemade no-bake protein bar made with oatmeal and protein powder. Oatmeal is also great to eat if you have a couple hours to go before you exercise. It will provide long lasting carbs to get you through your workout. Or a Larabar made with dates + nuts. Small and calorie dense, which makes for a good pre-workout snack. But be careful of the fat content! Yup, I am a total caffeine fiend and love to chug back a glass of iced coffee before working out. I never do this later in the day, but I truly believe it makes a difference when rolling out of bed and hitting the gym first thing.
Not recommended: Anything salty like bacon or popcorn. Learn from my experiences here people. You do not need to be any more parched than you already are during a workout!
Also, too much fibre or refined sugar (like in apples or blondies) can be tough on your tummy. Jostling it around during a workout can make it feel even worse. So you’ve now got an excellent workout in thanks to all that pre-workout energy you consumed. What to eat after? There’s tons of choices! The most common recommendation is to get 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein after a workout. This is complicated and I don’t like doing math after sweating too much. Just remember to get a good balance of both and you’re already on the road to success One of my personal favourites is the perfect protein…
Eggs. There are a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks for muscle recovery. Don’t forget to eat the yolk!
Another favourite in tuna. I’ll usually eat it in a pita, wrap or sandwich form. Tuna is a great lean protein, usually averaging around 30g protein for 120 calories. Cottage cheese + fruit. I really like doing this with pears or cantaloupe, but also good are cherries because of their anti-inflammation properties. Putting cottage cheese on top of a white potato or sweet potato is great because of the added potassium. The salt in the cottage cheese is great for sodium replenishment after sweating. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on top for magnesium! Bam. Yogurt + granola. Yup, this makes an excellent post-workout snack too! Milk and yogurt actually have the perfect carb to protein ratio for optimal recovery. How bout that? Of course, there is always the smoothie. I don’t do this much just because I’m not a fan of drinking my calories (I like to chew!). But they are great because you digest it faster, thus your recovery nutrients get to you when you need them most. Studies have shown there’s a 15-minute window after working out when having something like a recovery shake will benefit you the most. So bring it to the gym with you if you like! Or, you can just skip the glass
While I do love me some protein powder, just remember ingesting hoards of whey is not essential for muscle growth, nor will it make you gain weight! There are also tons of other powders out there like soy, hemp and rice. I actually enjoy hemp and pea protein the best in smoothies as I find the earthy flavour mixes well with the frozen fruit, almond butter and almond milk I also throw in.
Remember! These are just suggestions! It’s important to experiment with different food to find out what works best for your body (you’ll knoe pretty quickly when it doesn’t). While I am not a Registered Dietician or anything, I am currently working towards a Nutrition & Wellness certification so much of my knowledge on exercise nutrition comes from that.
Thank you to Leah for letting me swing by!
Question of the Day: What are some of your favourite foods to eat before and after a workout?
Filed under: Food Blogs