If we want to be in good physical and mental condition, physical activity must become our main ally. Regular exercise helps us tone our muscles, burn fat deposits, thus controlling body weight, and, last but not least, stimulates the production of endorphins, the hormone of “happiness”.
It is known that sport strengthens immunity, improves memory through the supply of oxygen to the brain, and reduces the risk of heart disease. The whole body benefits from physical activity. And to potentiate its effect, it is recommended to harmonize it with a healthy and intelligent diet.
The timing and type of food you eat before and after training can significantly impact how your body reacts to the effort it is subjected to. That’s why we have prepared some suggestions for you to consider when preparing your pre and post-workout meals.
Let’s go over what a perfect mini-meal should contain first:
Pre-workout food intake largely determines performance. When eating, it is essential what nutrient content it has and whether it is adapted to your type of exercise. One is to want to lose weight and quite another to aim to maintain fitness.
During exercise, you consume fat from adipose tissue and carbohydrates from glycogen stores in muscle and liver. On the other hand, if you have a high-carbohydrate meal before training, you will consume carbohydrates as an energy substrate and less fat.
Pre-exercise meals should contain both protein and carbohydrates. Slow-absorbing carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice) will give you a feeling of long-term satiety. On the other hand, fast-absorbing carbohydrates (for example, natural fruit juices) will provide you with more energy, which will be especially useful during your workout.
Effort recovery is an essential section in maintaining performance. Thus, if you recover properly, you can train the next day successfully. Otherwise, you end up with only muscle pain, fatigue, and decreased performance.
Exercise consumes your reserves of muscle carbohydrates (glycogen) and can also be followed by the destruction of muscle fibers, effects that must be remedied by proper recovery and recovery.
If you can’t have a meal right after exercise, you can have a snack containing carbohydrates and protein, such as a banana or protein bar (you can find many ideas on the blog) in the first 30-60 minutes after exercise.
Remember that your meals need to be balanced and varied, so make sure you add fruits and vegetables so you don’t deprive yourself of other essential nutrients.
When considering what to eat before your morning workout, think of three things:
- How much time do you have before training?
- What type of movement and intensity do you plan?
- How long will your training last?
You’ve probably heard all sorts of recommendations about breakfast – and it varies a lot because every person is different. Some people feel weak or lazy if they do not eat a large meal and others swear they have stomach cramps if they eat anything heavy.
When you exercise, your body focuses on feeding the muscles that work instead of concentrating on digestion – so eating a large, heavy meal too close to intense movement can cause you significant stomach pain. The key is to have a healthy fuel intake without overdoing it.
1. How much time do you have before training?
Synchronization matters the most – you don’t want to choose a vast and cumbersome breakfast if you plan to do intense cardio in the next twenty minutes. If possible, try to wake up an hour before your workout to hydrate and introduce some food into your system. If you have two or three hours before going to the gym, you can eat a more substantial meal.
2. What type of movement and intensity do you plan?
A few extremes here can even impact the best type of breakfast – if you plan a long aerobic cardio workout, you will want to focus on high-quality carbs as your leading food group. If you go for a quick weight lifting or HIIT session, it is less important to have long-lasting fuel. Somewhere in the middle? Try different options and discover what makes you feel best.
3. How long will your training last?
If you know, you’ll be in and out of the gym in less than 30 minutes, and you probably won’t need a massive table to support your energy. If you run a long marathon workout, you will need to plan for fuel and DURING your training.
MINI MEAL IDEAS
Considering all the above information, your meals should still combine the three macronutrients – carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Our muscles primarily use carbohydrates for energy, so they are a group of foods you do not want to go over. Here are some ideas for breakfast meals, from low to high calories, depending on the workout you have planned and the timing.
A full meal (2 or more hours before your workout)
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana slices, sprinkled with honey
- Omelet with vegetables
- Overnight Oats – old-fashioned oats soaked overnight in yogurt or milk with chia seeds and frozen berries
Light meal (1-2 hours before your workout)
- Whole grain tortilla with an egg omelet and shredded cheese
- Yogurt with granola and diced apple sprinkled with cinnamon
- Smoothie with berries, spinach or kale, and hemp powder
Pre-workout snack (1 hour or less before your workout)
- Half a protein/energy bar