When it comes to working out, what you put in your mouth before and after exercising is essential. If you want to get the most out of your workouts, you want to make sure you are properly fueling your body. Here's what you should eat before and after a workout.
What you should eat before working out
Eating right before a workout is crucial to getting the most out of your workout. In fact, not eating enough before exercising can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, and fatigue.
The ideal time to eat is between a half-hour to three hours before your workout. It's okay if you can't eat a whole meal before you hit the gym -- a small snack will suffice. Your pre-workout snack should have protein and carbs. Carbs break down into glucose in the body, which then enters the muscle cells, providing fuel to exercise. Eating carbs before exercising ensures you'll have enough glucose on hand. Not having enough glucose during workouts can cause you to feel weak and tired. Aim to eat simple carbohydrates that are digested fast and provide quick energy, such as a granola bar, fruit, oatmeal, and crackers.
In addition to carbs, you should also consume some protein before working out, especially if you are strength training. This is because your body needs protein to build up your muscles. Choose sources of protein that are easy to digest, such as hardboiled eggs, nuts, and Greek yogurt.
What to eat immediately after working out
You should eat right after working out to replace the calories you used up. Eating both carbs and protein after exercising replenishes glycogen reserves and results in speedy muscle recovery. When you don't eat after a workout, you can end up feeling fatigued with low blood sugar.
Your post-workout meal should be high in complex carbohydrates that break down slowly. Good sources include brown rice, quinoa, nuts, and whole wheat bread. If you're trying to build muscle, you'll need extra protein as well. Healthy proteins are tofu, beans, and fish.
Don't forget to hydrate
You should hydrate your body before heading to the gym. To determine how hydrated you are, you should check out the color of your urine. If it's dark-colored, that indicates you are dehydrated and need to drink more water. Aim to drink around 16 ounces of water a couple of hours before exercising and 8 ounces of water 15 minutes before working out. This will minimize dehydration, which can cause low energy and muscle spasms. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout your workout, too. Drink 8 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of intense cardio.
Immediately after working out, you should replenish the fluids you lost while sweating. Reach for electrolyte drinks, too, like coconut water or Powerade.