Many people have heard that exercising on an empty stomach may burn more fat rather than if you eat before hand, especially in the mornings. However, studies have shown that exercising without eating prior to working-out causes your body to take away form lean muscle mass and hold onto the stubborn fat that we all want to loose. You need energy to workout and without the fuel that food gives to your body; you’re running on nothing but fumes.
Pre-workout eating usually means grabbing a healthy snack about 30-60 minutes in advance, depending on its size and contents, and how hungry you are. This is not saying you should eat a full 3-course meal before you workout or running out the door with a Pop-Tart, but eating a light and healthy snack before lacing up to workout will do the trick! There are certain things that are good to eat before AND after a workout.
Yes that’s right, eating after a workout is equally important as eating before a workout! Your metabolism is extremely high right after you exercise; therefore you are more likely to keep burning calories even after your workout. Burning calories also means burning energy. In order to keep your energy up and your metabolism roaring, try to eat a healthy and protein packed snack after working out as well.
So, what should you eat? You want to be strategic and smart with what you fuel your body with so you don’t cramp up or even get sick during the workout. Here are some good ideas for before the workout:
1.) Most importantly, drink water! Staying hydrated throughout the day is the best thing you can do for your body so you don’t dehydrate during a workout. Start your snack off right with some H20!
2.) Trail Mix. Trail mix is perfect for on the go and if you want something salty and/or sweet! But in order to keep all the preservatives, salt, amounts of candy down, and amount of nutrients up, try to make it yourself. Get some unsalted nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, which will add the sweetness in your trail mix (always be checking the sugar content!). If you are someone who absolutely needs chocolate in their trail mix, try to add just a few bits of dark chocolate rather than sugarcoated M&M’s or milk chocolate.
3.) Yogurt and fruit. Greek yogurt topped with freshly sliced fruit is the perfect pre-workout snack for any time of day. You can even add some granola or a healthy and low sugar cereal for that crunch. Its simple, satisfying, and very low calorie. This is a perfect fit to almost any healthy eating plan!
4.) Apple slices and peanut butter. Apples are great for waking you up and keeping you full! But if you need just that little extra “umph” to help fill you up, consider putting peanut butter on your apple slices. To make this even healthier, try to get an all-natural peanut butter that is very low in sugar.
5.) Oatmeal and fruit. The carbohydrates in oatmeal will be slowly released throughout your workout helping to keep you energized. Take about ½ a cup of oatmeal and add some fruit to make it a quick but very energizing pre-workout snack!
All right, we’ve got the pre-workout snacks covered! Now that you finished your workout you need to go home and find something small to keep your metabolism up. But what should you have?
1.) Here comes that “w” word again. WATER! You need to make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and even after your workout to keep your body hydrated and your muscles replenished. Drinking plenty of water can result in less soreness and stiffness the next day after a hard workout
2.) Protein! Protein is perfect for refueling your muscles after a workout as well as keeping you full while your metabolism is up and running. Protein shakes are typically the number one go-to as a post-workout snack. Protein bars are okay as long as you check the sugar content. If you have any protein powder lying around, protein pancakes are also a great way to sneak in protein after a workout!
3.) Tuna and crackers. Tuna is another great source of protein, B-vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acid’s that help control the body’s insulin response. If you buy pre-packaged tuna make sure it is soaked in water instead of oil. If you make tuna yourself try to use substitutes for the mayo, such as Greek yogurt or even avocado. Put some of the tuna on whole wheat crackers and you will be good to go!
4.) One to two cups of low-fat chocolate milk seals the deal with extra carbs and protein. But again, check the sugar content! Make sure you are not drinking pure sugar. Try for a chocolate almond milk or chocolate soy milk. Almond and soy milk still have the same benefits of traditional milk but without all the extra calories, fat, lactose, and preservatives.
5.) Scrambled eggs. Just like everything else listed above, scrambled eggs are a great source of protein. You can add veggies and lean meats into your eggs as well. Scrambled eggs are quick, easy, and you can add just about anything into them!