What to Eat Before and After a Workout

March 3, 2011 · 5 comments

This is a guest post by Bailey Harris.

Many people think it is best to not eat before working out, but this is not always true. If you eat too much before a workout, it can make you feel sluggish and slow, but if you don’t eat enough you may get hungry and not workout as long or as hard. Eating the right food and the right amount is critical in helping muscle growth and recovery. The key is to find what amount of food works best for your body.

Why It Is Important to Eat Before Working Out

Eating before working out is essential if you want to prevent your blood sugar levels from getting low and draining your energy. A pre-workout meal should contain carbohydrates and protein and be low in fat content. If you are looking to build muscle, a 2:1 or 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal. A 1:1 or 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is best if you are looking to lose weight.

When and What to Eat Before a Workout

It is best to eat a full meal 3 to 4 hours before working out .This meal should consist of 400 to 700 calories, depending on your weight. If you weigh more, you need more calories. Some good choices for a pre-workout meal are whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce, eggs, salmon, chicken breast, oatmeal, baked potato, and fruit. If your workout is first thing in the morning, try a shake made from whey protein powder, one banana and one small glass of orange juice.

If you work out at an off time, it is recommended that you eat a snack 60 to 90 minutes before exercising. This snack should contain 200 to 350 calories. Some great snacks to try include fruit, fruit smoothies, fruit juices, low-fat yogurt, nuts, or an energy bar. You should avoid high fat and empty calorie foods, such as meats, doughnuts, potato chips, and French fries. These foods are difficult to digest and remain in the stomach for too long.

Why It Is Important to Eat After Working Out

You have just stretched and depleted your muscles, it is important to give your body what it needs to repair them. Eating a post workout meal will help to build muscles and help with weight loss. This meal should be low in fat and high in carbohydrates and proteins.The carbohydrate to protein ration can be 2:1 or up to 4:1. The post-workout meal should contain at least 250 calories, but no more than 500 calories

When and What to Eat After a Workout

It is best to eat within one hour of finishing your workout. Some good choices for a post workout snack are turkey, chicken, or tuna on whole wheat bread, a salad, eggs, potatoes, string cheese, vegetables, or a protein bar or shake. If you workout at the gym, it is a good idea to bring a whey protein shake with you to drink on the way home. If you don’t eat after your workout, you are taking the chance of becoming overly hungry later, which can lead to eating too much.

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John March 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I personally do not eat before my workouts. I do drink a calorie free drink called Jack3d if I am lifting though. Most of my workouts are early in the morning, at least the gym ones. I can do 90m of cardio without feeling dead, without eating.

I do eat before my hockey games though, since they are late at night. I would highly suggest not eating wheat pasta. High fiber foods tend to make me feel bloated and sluggish during intense exercise and wheat pasta is super high fiber. Beans would fall into this category also.

You tips for post workout food seem right on the money. 20-30g of protein is what I strive for.

julie March 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

It doesn’t seem to matter when I eat, as long as my stomach isn’t growling when I work out. Drinking alcohol afterward, on the other hand, will knock me on my butt with the smallest amount after a workout, compared to the much larger (though still small) amounts I can usually drink. Normally I eat lunch around 12:30, hit gym from 5:30 to 7:30, then eat dinner around 9. I wouldn’t drink a whey shake unless there was a gun to my head. I’m not too sensitive to blood sugar anymore these days, probably too much exercise. Lack of caffeine, or presence of alcohol, is much more problematic.

Patrick Kallie March 11, 2011 at 7:44 am

I hate eating before I workout also. For me it just seems that I burn more calories and just “feel” better after I finish. The first thing that I have to do after a goo workout is to eat something very light, but after that I pretty much eat whatever I want. It all depends on your personal preference.

Mike March 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I totally disagree with this article. The author states that you need to eat 3 to 4 hours before working out. This is utter madness and the worst info, you can give people. Your body will not have the fuel in it to train hard, leaving this amount of time before working out.

The author also states that you should eat a meal consisting of oatmeal and oats which are complex carbs. This is really bad advice, before and after a workout you should eat simple carbs, such as fruit. I could go on how bad this article is, the info in this article is garbage. I’m sorry for ranting, but it is advice like this that is stopping people reaching their goals.

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