It is not just important what you eat, but when you eat it is crucial to – especially as an athlete. Eating the correct foods at the appropriate time before, during and after a workout will not only properly nourish and fuel you—you may also see gains in your performance. Fuelling for strength training is slightly different than fuelling for cardio-based workouts. Here are a few tips to follow in order to get the most out of your workout.
1 to 2 Hours Pre-Workout
To keep you from feeling hungry before a workout, without stomach discomfort, choose a mini-meal or snack that combines healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and protein. Depending on your personal goals and needs, the amount of food required is unique to you. An example of such meal could be an amaranth porridge sprinkled with almond milk, nuts and seeds.
30 Minutes Pre-Workout
Your focus should be on simple carbohydrates right before your workout. Select foods that provide quick energy and are easily digested. Fruit is a perfect example of this, as a light, easily digestible and quick on-the-go option to consume while on the way to the gym. For easy pre-workout fuel try filling a date with coconut oil for a delicious and efficient pre-workout snack! No Protein is needed at this stage.
During Your Workout
During your strength-training routine, the essential components to focus on are quick energy and electrolytes. If you are training less than an hour, you can stick to electrolytes as your focus. If your workouts are longer than 45 minutes to an hour, you may want to consume easily digestible carbohydrates. Most athletes find it easier to drink than to eat during a workout, so seek out carbohydrates in a gel or drink format. You can blend up fruit and dates to make a gel, or make a fresh fruit juice for a steady burst of energy.
No matter the length of your workout, electrolytes are essential. As you sweat you lose minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride with water. When choosing an electrolyte replacement look for ones without artificial colours, flavours or fillers.
No Protein is needed at this stage.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in action at the gym is people rushing to have their post-workout protein drink, thinking that it is the one-and-only essential macronutrient needed in order to build muscle. This is simply a myth.
Post-workout, your focus is to replenish lost glycogen stores in order for protein synthesis to occur. Simply put, you must consume simple carbohydrates first, then protein later, in order for muscle building and strengthening to occur. Consuming a post-workout carbohydrate based drink is highly recommended due to the ease of digestibility and assimilation—less work on your body! To replenish your muscle glycogen fastest, consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.
1 to 3 Hours Post-Workout
A high protein meal is needed several hours post-workout—not directly after—as many assume. Some plant-based protein sources include clean plant-based protein power, such as quinoa, beans, lentils nuts and seeds. If you are having a post-workout meal, include dark leafy greens for added vitamin and antioxidant support.
Fuelling your body on a clean, plant-based diet is the key to forming strong muscles and supporting long-term health. Follow these essential tips while working out, to see and feel the difference in your workout—and in achieving results!