What to Eat and Drink Before, During and After a Workout
By now, you’ve probably read about the importance of pre and post workout nutrition. But did you know that when you eat is just as crucial as what you eat to achieve your fitness goals? Fueling your body with the right foods and supplements at the right time will give you the fuel you need for optimal performance so that you can see those killer gains you’ve been working so hard for. Your post-workout can also be the deciding factor of how low your energy levels are, how sore your muscles are, and how quickly you’ll be able to get back into the gym to hit your goals.
Fuel your body and get the most out of your workouts with these tips on what to eat and drink before, during and after a workout.
There are many things to consider when preparing for a good workout, and timing is just as important here as what you’re consuming. Consuming the right fuel at the right time before you exercise can play a huge role in your energy levels, motivation and even warding off hunger (because let’s face it, no one is focusing on their workout when food is on the brain). Let’s go through the most important pre-workout nutrition steps:
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate Regardless of the type of athlete you are, or workout you’re enduring, preventing dehydration before a workout is so important, and is one of the key factors in maintaining performance and avoiding muscle fatigue. On average, individuals can lose between 1 to 2.5 liters of sweat per hour, which can mean a loss of up to 3,000 mg of sodium! Ideally, you should begin hydrating 2 to 3 hours before exercise, or at the very least drink 1 cup of water before you exercise. If you’re sick of plain old water, try mixing in some of our flavoured electrolytes into the mix.
Enjoy a well-balanced snack 1 to 2 hours before your workout. This will prevent you from feeling hungry during a workout, and will top off muscle glycogen levels. Make sure that it’s a well-balanced snack combining healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and protein. On the go? Check out some of our nutritious snacks for the days when you’re in a rush.
Use natural pre-workout stimulants for an extra energy boost and enhanced focus. Whether you’ve just finished a long day of work, you just woke up, or the extra motivation you need just isn’t there some days, choosing a natural pre-workout supplement might be just what you need to fuel your body and provide the sustainable energy that you’re looking for. This should be the last step of your pre-workout, around 15 to 30 minutes before the exercise begins. Check out the Nutraphase Pre-Train products for a natural way to reduce fatigue and increase muscle endurance!
During your workout, the most important nutrients to focus on are digestible carbohydrates and electrolytes. If your workout is 45 minutes or less, it’s recommended that you stick to electrolytes as fuel. If you’re enduring a longer workout, consuming small amounts of easily digestible carbohydrates can be beneficial for sustainable energy. Let’s dive in a little more:
Electrolytes are essential, no matter the length of your workout. As we mentioned above, you lose minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride when you sweat, and it’s important to replenish those minerals at every stage of your workout. Ensuring these electrolytes are being replaced will keep your energy levels up, and reduce the risk of your muscles cramping up. Many electrolyte drink mixes on the market are full of artificial fillers, but Vitarock has many natural electrolyte products for you to choose from. Check out the Asportek lbcaa + Electrolytes, Nuun Active Electrolytes or Klean Athlete Klean Electrolytes.
Easily digestible carbs can help you get through a longer and more strenuous workout. If you’re looking for added fuel during those high intensity workouts, grab for food like a banana or a couple medjool dates. This will help delay fatigue by raising blood sugar levels and preserve muscle glycogen, allowing you to exercise for longer.
Want to really take your intra-workout to the next level? Nutraphase Clean EAA (Essential Amino Acids) have been developed with 8 essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body, along with natural carbs and coconut water so that you can take it during your workout to replenish your glycogen stores, and train non-stop to reach your peak performance potential.
What’s the first thing that you think of when you think of post-workout nutrition? I’m going to bet that your answer is: protein. There is no doubt that consuming high-quality protein after a workout is important for repairing and building strong muscles, but did you know that you should be consuming simple carbohydrates before you drink your protein shake? Let’s go through the steps...
Drinking your protein shake immediately after your workout? Think again. The first thing you should be restoring after a workout is your lost muscle glycogen. Why? Because all types of exercise use carbohydrates for energy, so depletion is inevitable after a workout. Consuming simple carbohydrates immediately after a workout is going to help muscle repair building occur, and replenish your energy levels.
Consume high-quality protein 45-60 minutes after your workout. This is going to help repair and rebuild your muscles, allow protein synthesis (the process of rebuilding muscle tissue) to occur and support overall long term health. Our bodies use protein to convert it into amino acids, which is what’s used to repair our muscles. For that reason, it’s important to consume a complete amino acid profile to help our bodies recover. The Vitarock shop offers a wide variety of vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, organic or whey protein sources for you to choose from, including protein powders, bars, snacks and more!
What about BCAAs? BCAAs is short for branched chain amino acids, which are three essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that will help support protein synthesis, support muscle recovery and decrease soreness after a workout. These amino acids are called essential because the body can not create them on its own and relies on us to consume them. If your protein powder or food sources that you’re consuming post workout does not include all of these essential amino acids, it may be beneficial for you to incorporate a BCAA supplements into your post-workout routine. Check out our natural BCAA supplements, gummies and drink powders here!
Fatty acids can also be beneficial to consume an hour after a workout, since our body will sometimes use dietary fat for energy when our carbohydrate levels are low. Try adding some hemp seeds, flax seeds or chia seeds to your post-workout meal to replenish your energy levels and benefit from their plant-based sources of anti-inflammatory omega 3s.
Electrolytes, as mentioned, are important during every stage of your workout. We won’t bore you with explaining it to you all over again, but make sure you’re staying hydrated and replacing lost minerals that you lost during that workout!
Want to learn more about electrolytes? Check out the article ‘What are Electrolytes and Why Do I Need Them?’ on the Vitarock blog!
ADDITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY
There are a number of other supplements that compliment a wholesome diet and can support post-workout recovery through anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. Here are a few of our favourites:
Turmeric can be extremely beneficial for managing inflammation for those who exercise regularly. Curcumin, an active compound in turmeric, provides antioxidants to help fight inflammation and promote overall good health. Try adding some in to your post-workout smoothie!
Devil’s Claw is a root traditional in African medicine for reducing inflammation, and may help reduce back pain, joint pain, arthritis and tendonitis.
Maca is a root from Peru that has a delicious caramel-like flavour that can enhance athletic performance by improving energy, stamina and mental function. It’s also an antioxidant, which can support overall health and kill free radicals after a workout, and it has 18 of the 20 amino acids needed in the human body!
This article is for information purposes only and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. Please consult with your healthcare provider before starting or making any changes to your nutrition, supplementation or exercise regimen.