Don’t start a workout on an empty tank. You need quality carbs, lean protein, healthy fats and fluids to fuel a kick-butt workout. I am not a dietician but I can provide some general guidelines that work for me. Most importantly eat foods that you enjoy and your body tolerates well.
Your muscles rely on complex carbohydrate foods like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits and vegetables for a quick energy source. You need protein for your hard working muscles to get peak performance from them. You also need fluids in advance of a workout to prevent dehydration.
If you have a 2-3 hour window to eat a meal before your workout a
300-400 calorie mix of carbs, protein and fat will serve you well throughout your workout. A small portion of chicken with veggies and rice makes a good choice. In the morning I always eat eggs (maybe because I raise my own chickens and have a readily available source of fresh eggs – yummy!!) A couple of eggs and a slice of toast is the perfect pre-mid morning workout meal for me.
The most beneficial food for the window 1 -2 hours before a workout is a light, carb centered snack with a little bit of protein. Quality deli turkey meat with some whole grain crackers is a favorite of mine. Yogurt with granola or cottage cheese is another option. The snack should be around 200 calories.
If you are rushing to the gym, and remember that you are running on empty a small snack such as a banana (good carb and potassium combo), glob of hummus, some nuts or raisins will see you nailing it at the gym. Again, the important thing is to not show up running on fumes, you will only disappoint yourself with your listless performance.
With each eating scenario it is important to hydrate. 1-2 glasses of water before your workout will keep you well hydrated and allow your body to function at it’s maximum.
Post workout recovery nutrition is just as important. Within 30 minutes of finishing your awesome session at the gym eat a snack that is higher in protein and a few carbs. The protein will start to calm your irritated muscles and help in the re-building phase. This will help reduce muscle soreness. I enjoy a hard-boiled egg with a rice cake, or some chicken or deli turkey. Peanut butter on a sliced apple is also a favorite. Continue to hydrate to help cool your body and replenish what sweat you left on the gym floor.
The key is to eat high quality food and snacks throughout the day with a good balance of protein, carbs and fat. This will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep your motivation for a quality workout high.
Keep moving and grooving!!