Just like a car needs fuel to run and function well, our body needs various workout foods to be able to function in a productive way. To improve your performance and to achieve your fitness goals, you require energy. You will get optimal energy from a good combination of carbs, proteins, heart-healthy fats, and fluids. The key is having the right foods and fluids in the right amounts and at the right times. So if you wish to make the most of your exercise sessions, read on about the best pre and post-workout foods.
Some of the Best Pre-Workout Foods
Fueling your body with good nutrients before a workout will provide you with the strength and energy you need to perform better. Although we all may have different nutritional requirements, there are certain general pre-workout foods that are known to be effective in maximizing your efforts in the gym e.g black coffee.
Bananas, Whole Grain Toast & Peanut or Almond butter
Known as nature’s power bar, bananas are packed with natural sugar, simple carbs, and potassium which helps prevent muscle cramps. Both almond and peanut butter have healthy fats and a whole grain toast is an excellent source of blood-sugar-steadying carbs.
Oats, protein powder and berries
Since oats are full of fiber, they release carbohydrates slowly and thus help in sustaining your energy throughout the workout, allowing you to train harder for longer durations. They also have Vitamin B which helps convert carbs into energy. You can increase the nutritional value by adding some protein powder. This is great to prepare for a cardio workout. Besides, fruits such as blueberries, cherries and raspberries contain antioxidants that play a pivotal role in the prevention of cell damage.
Chicken Thighs, Brown Rice & Steamed Vegetables
This meal is a perfect blend of complex carbs, good fat and protein. The fiber in the vegetables and brown rice helps with digestion and blood circulation. Grilled chicken is an excellent source of protein. It is recommended (not essential) to go for chicken thighs as dark meat is known to have more of the good fat that keeps you from getting hungry during workout.
Fruit & Greek Yogurt
Fruit with Greek yogurt is an excellent combo as fruits are filled with carbohydrates which break down quickly and are used as fuel during exercise. Greek yogurt on the other hand is packed with protein which is stored a little longer and is very effective in preventing muscle damage. Compared to other yogurts, Greek yogurt has fewer carbs, half the sodium and double the protein.
Eggs are a low calorie, nutritionally balanced food. They have high-quality protein and if you are including the yolk, you will get all the eight essential amino acids. Besides, the yolk contains a lot of minerals, vitamins and healthy fats. A pre-workout protein snack helps a lot in improving muscle performance.
Some of the Best Post-Workout Foods
Just like you need nutrients to perform your workout, you also need good post-workout foods to replenish the muscle glycogen depleted from the physical demands in the gym. A workout recovery meal helps stimulate protein synthesis to repair and build new muscle tissue as well as restore electrolyte and fluid balance. Here are some of the best post-workout foods to keep your body working at its best.
After a vigorous workout routine in the gym you can treat yourself with a power smoothie that includes a mix of healthy carbs and protein. Blend your favorite fruit with almond milk, plain yogurt, soy or favorite tolerated dairy, some water, and ice. You can also add a spoonful of your favorite nut butter for healthy fats. The good thing about smoothies is that you can experiment with them a great deal and they give you an energy boost without making you feel too full.
Tart Cherry Juice
There is a lot of positive research supporting the role of tart cherry juice in decreasing muscle inflammation. There is a reason why this drink is such a hit among athletes; cherries contain a lot of vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. When taken in the form of juice, an athlete is able to ingest a large number of antioxidants in a short time period. This helps the muscles to repair faster after a hard training session.
Sweet potatoes contain wholesome carbs which strengthen your immunity and aid your body to recover well after a tough day of training. Another thing you need after an intense workout is fiber and sweet potatoes have plenty of it to keep you satiated for a long time. They can be eaten in a variety of ways; you can boil, fry, or even roast them.
The nutritional value of avocados cannot be overstated. They are a great source of vitamins C, E, K as well as potassium, magnesium, folate, niacin and pantothenic acid. They also provide lutein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fat which is very beneficial for repairing joints and muscles. They are also rich in B vitamins which are essential for your metabolism.
Sandwich wraps made with high fiber whole grain bread are a wonderful choice for a recovery meal. You can include wholesome ingredients such as chicken, turkey, tomatoes, and lettuce that will make for a good combination of complex carbs and help repair your muscles for future workouts. You can always increase the nutritional value of your wraps by adding different vegetables each time.
Research shows that a higher intake of the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other kinds of fish provide protein that helps in muscle recovery. They also have healthy fats which not only reduce joint inflammation but also keep your cardiovascular system in good condition. The quick-cooking protein is an ideal choice for a post-workout dinner.
If you are going to put in the effort for a good workout, it only makes sense to properly fuel your body. Now you have some ideas on which foods to eat before and after you exercise. Your body will perform better and you’ll reach your workout goals before you know it.