Pre- and Post- Workout Snacks - Here’s 3 of Each!
Growing up, my mom always made sure we ate breakfast, even if it meant handing it to us as we ran out the door to the school bus. Mom knew what she was doing, with her making sure we were fueled up and ready to focus for a day of learning and physical activity (for me, that was my workout during track practice). As an adult, though, I feel like more people feel like they can get up and go throughout their day, without regard to fueling their bodies. Here’s the thing, if you're not breaking your fast with BREAKfast and then continuing to fuel your body throughout the day, you're going to struggle to function effectively at work, think clearly, complete a productive workout routine, and continue to constantly burn energy throughout the day so that your metabolism remains highly. Now if you’re the type of person who doesn’t need to lose weight, and you have to maintain or bulk up, eating properly throughout the day is still essential for muscle growth and maintaining a healthy weight.
This is why I condone eating. Not just eating any and everything you want, but eating the right fuel building and fat burning foods to help you function at your best throughout the day. Eating at various times throughout the day triggers your body to continuously burn calories. So when you’re not eating throughout the day, your body’s metabolism is slowing down, and you're essentially telling your body to hold on to whatever it has. Sometimes that "it" may be nothing at all, causing your body to burn any fuel it has slower and slower. So eat up! But let me go a little further into why this is important before and after your workout.
Why you need pre-workout eats
**Let me just say that for me personally, unless I ate horribly the night before or I ate very little, I complete fasted workouts in the morning, and then eat immediately after I shower. I have been doing this for years, so my body is used to it from my college days. I don't advise this, but if you are used to it, I won't badger you.** Before your workout, you may have been working all day, or if you're a morning exerciser, you have just awaken from a fast of anywhere between 4 and 8 hours. If you're a morning person, this is probably the only time I will say this is strictly preferential, but you may want to decide whether to wait to eat anything until after your workout or eat a quick snack before you workout. Some people have reported feeling heavier if they eat first thing in the morning before their workout. Some just don't like it because it's just too early to eat for them. I will say that it IS good after you've been asleep to have something small on your stomach to give you a little energy. If I workout in the morning, I can eat either before or after, but I prefer to workout first and then eat after. I think for me, it's just been ingrained in me since being an athlete. We'd have 6am or 7am practice and it was just easy for me to get up, throw my workout clothes on, and go. It was easy to go eat breakfast between that early practice and my 8am or 9am class. Now, I find that it flows with my schedule the best. Get up, workout, shower, eat, get to work (just as I stated above). Remember, this is if you're going to use your morning to get your workout in. You still have other options in the day.
If you workout at lunch or after work, you will have already eaten a good breakfast (hopefully), and now you just need a snack to fuel you before your workout so that you won't fade during, and you need a great meal to keep burning those calories. I would suggest eating protein-packed foods. You don't need your entire day's nutritional value in protein in one serving, but you do need about 6-20 grams of protein before your workout. Per day, you need about 10%-35% of your daily food intake to be from a protein source - preferably lean protein. That's about .4 grams per pound. For me, I will need about 51 grams of protein per day. Now if you have special needs, i.e., you're body building, or pregnant or breastfeeding, you're an athlete, or have a weight loss goal, your protein intake will be higher or lower, based on that need. But the point is to fuel your body so that you can complete your workout without giving out.
Why you need post-workout eats
So now, you've worked out, you're probably pretty tired and your body is fatigued. You've sweated out your 'do, and your clothes, now it's time to replenish what you've lost. Remember, if you're strength training, you're tearing down your muscles, and you need rest and the proper foods to repair and recover. This is so very important to do after your workout. It's just as important as warming up before your workout and cooling down after. Healthy food is the source you need to increase the effectiveness of warming up, working out, and cooling down. So the foods you eat post-workout will be foods that are good for replenishing your proteins, preventing inflammation and rebuilding the muscle you've broken down during your workout.
If you're working out directly after work, this will still be in snack form and will only be about the same as you'd have pre-workout; about 6-20 grams. So keep in mind the amount of food total that you're eating per day, but also how much you're eating per SERVING throughout the day. You will start to burn more energy, get stronger, have more endurance, feel better, and be mindful of all the things you're eating.
Next time you're itching to get to your workout, take inventory of how you actually feel in the hunger department. Are you hungry? Are you starving? Do you not feel anything? Then, think about the last time you ate. Was it an hour ago? Three hours ago? FIVE hours ago? Have you even eaten today? You should be eating approximately every 2-3 hours, so that your body is continuously being fueled. You may not feel hungry, but I promise you that if you start feeding it at appropriate times, and with the appropriate amounts, you'll start to see a difference in your appetite AND your waistline (here's a hint: if you're eating the right things, it's going to get smaller!).
Well, that's it for now, guys! I hope you have the best day and I hope to see you in the next post.
Love and Hugs!