The most important aspect of being healthy is…FOOD!
People eat constantly. Our lives can even sometimes revolve around food, counting down the minutes until lunch or reconnecting with family over dinner. Being fit and healthy requires more than simply going to the gym. It also involves eating the right foods. What and when you chose to eat before, during, and after a workout can have a big impact on how effective your workout is, and how you feel after it. In this blog, we cover the best foods to eat around a workout, as well as general tips for eating healthy.
Before you exercise
Eating something before you head to the gym can help energize your workout! You may have heard that it is a bad idea to exercise on an empty stomach, but it is also not a good idea to eat a big meal right before your workout. The best strategy is to eat about one or two hours before you workout and focus on foods that are moderate in carbohydrates and protein, and low in fat and fiber. Avoid any foods that might upset your stomach! Examples of good pre-workout foods are:
- whole-grain cereals
- whole-wheat toast
- low-fat or fat-free yogurt
- whole grain pasta
- brown rice
During your workout
You probably don’t need to eat during a workout that is an hour or less. But for longer, high intensity workouts, pausing for an energy bar or a protein shake is recommended. Whatever you chose to eat for your mid-workout snack, try to get a balance of carbohydrates and proteins. Examples of mid-workout snacks are:
- Clif bars
After a workout it might seem counterintuitive to eat and “cancel out” all of the hard work you’ve done. However, eating certain foods after a workout will help your muscles repair and grow, as well as boost your metabolism. Your post-workout meal should include some protein and carbohydrates, as well as fruits and veggies. Examples of good foods to eat post-workout are:
- Grilled chicken
- fruit salad
- tuna and crackers
- mashed potatoes
Sports drinks vs water
Water keeps you healthy, and hydrated so your body can work at optimal efficiency. The amount of water you should drink each day depends on your weight and level of activity. Although, the general recommendations is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Water is usually all you need to keep you healthy and hydrated before, during, and after a workout. However, when working for long periods in hot, humid conditions, sports drinks can add carbohydrates and sodium to keep you going during your workout.
Nutrition isn’t only important when working out! Everything you put in your body will have an impact on how it runs, so while you don’t have to cut out burgers, cupcakes, and other unhealthy foods altogether, it’s a good idea to cut back and replace them with healthier foods. Some tips to keep eating healthy are:
Practice moderation. Don’t cut out your favorite candy, but buy a mini bar instead of a full-sized one.
Plan ahead. Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time so that when you’re hungry, you’ll be less tempted to reach for the bag of chips and can go for the carrots instead.
Eat breakfast. If you don’t you’ll find yourself hungry and tempted to snack before lunchtime.
Clean your cupboard. The saying, out of sight, out of mind, applies to junk food too! Get rid of the junk food from your kitchen and you you’ll help get rid of the temptation to eat those foods.
Go slow. When you eat slowly, you’ll enjoy your meal more and will be less likely to overeat.
Keep track. A food diary will help you keep track of what you’re eating as well as spot any unhealthy trends, such as eating out too much of a certain item.
Everyone’s body is different, and you might feel better, or simply enjoy, eating some foods more than others. Experiment with different foods to figure out what works best for you. If you want help finding the best food plan for your body and lifestyle, you can consult with your doctor or a nutritionist who can help you create a goal and stay on track with your health goals.
What will you eat today?