Losing weight, building muscle, or toning your body all involve a balance of diet and exercise. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, it is essential to give your body the fuel it needs both before and after a workout. Training naturally depletes your body’s energy levels, and although you may think that fasting before or after a workout will help you to lose weight faster, the reality is that this is unsustainable.
Why Do You Need To Eat Before A Workout?
Working out on an empty stomach causes your body to look for alternative energy sources - typically from fat deposits or existing muscle mass. If you’re trying to lose weight, then fasted cardio may seem appealing, but be warned, it will have an effect on your performance, and in the long run, it can slow down muscle growth.
The Best Pre Workout Snacks
If you have the time to do so, then most people suggest eating your pre-workout meal 2-3 hours before your workout. In reality, many people struggle to eat before their workout, especially in the morning or if they’re fitting their workout in on their lunch break - in these cases a workout snack, eaten 30 minutes to an hour before your workout, is your best option. Here are some of the best pre-workout snacks to choose from.
Seed or nut butter with a banana
Sunflower butter, peanut butter, or almond butter all make a great pre-workout snack! These creamy kinds of butter are all packed with protein and healthy fats and, when eaten with a banana, they provide a great source of carbs too.
Dried fruit and nut mix
Fruit and nut mix has been a pre-workout staple for decades. Super convenient, tasty, and healthy, nuts are a natural slow-release energy store, while dried fruit provides a great source of quick-release energy.
A smoothie with fresh fruit, nut butter, and coconut milk
If you’re short on time and need a snack that can be eaten en-route to your workout, then a smoothie is probably your best bet. Once again, nut and seed butter are an easy way to add protein and healthy fat to this snack - and they make the smoothie creamy and filling too!
Why Do You Need To Eat After A Workout?
After a workout, it’s time for your body to rebuild its glycogen stores and to repair and regrow any muscle proteins that were damaged. Although your body will do this regardless of whether you eat or not, consuming a post-workout meal or snack will decrease muscle protein breakdown, increase muscle growth, and enhance your recovery.
The Best Post Workout Snacks
A post-workout snack should be eaten within an hour or so of leaving the gym. Most pre-workout snacks also work well as post-workout snacks, however, you may want to add in an extra source of protein. We’ve already mentioned fruit and nut mix, banana dipped in seed and nut butter, and fresh fruit smoothies above, so here are some different post-workout snacks to try.
Protein shakes can be made with protein powder, or by blending up a nut or seed butter with the rest of your smoothie ingredients. Typically, pre-workout shakes and smoothies tend to be higher in carbs than post-workout shakes which focus on protein, so you may want to skip the banana and add in some spinach if you are blending a post-workout smoothie at home.
Chia seeds are a phenomenal protein source! One of the easiest ways to eat chia seeds is chia pudding, but they can also be blended into smoothies, molded into granola bars, or sprinkled onto salads.
Boiled eggs have been a fitness staple for a very long time. Convenient, easy to eat, and packed with protein, they make a simple post-workout snack.