Here’s what you should eat before, during and after a workout

Fitness enthusiasts are always on the lookout to train better, longer and harder. But sometimes, one may feel worn-out after a workout session which may happen due to lack of good nutrition before the exercises. Food is fuel to our body and the right quantity is needed to function properly and maximise the efforts while working out. Therefore, eating before, in-between and post the training can boost results and help in improving the performance to reach the desired fitness goal.

Before the workout

Fitness expert Bhavaya Chawla and founder of Built Natural states that nutrition should be planned according to the workout timings. For health-conscious enthusiasts who prefer early morning workouts, he recommends, “They must have a good meal for dinner that should include protein as well as carbohydrates which acts as stored energy in the body otherwise they may feel lethargic in the morning .” He also suggests one cup of black coffee 45 minutes
pre-workout may help in some extra energy.

If you have it 1-3 hours before starting the workout, nutritionist Kavita Devgan advises, “A high quality carbohydrate pre-workout snack. Some examples are low-fat granola bars, fig bars, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a banana.”

The reason to consume carbohydrates before any exercise is that they help fuel muscles, and lessen inflammation post the session and also lessens some of the physiological stress of working out, according to Devgan.

Another important aspect to consider before you fuel up your body before the fitness regime is the kind of activity and the intensity range. Chawla says, “Nutrition and meals also depend upon the intensity of the workouts. If intensity is high, it is always advised to have a good meal pre-workout before 2 hours (protein and carbohydrates). Same is applicable if your are doing high intensity strength training, running long distance or cycling.” He further adds, “Avoiding consumption of fat before a workout as it takes lot of time to digest.”

During the workout

While many give important to pre and post workout foods, Devgan highlights the importance of keeping the body hydrated during the workout. While working out, the body temperature rises and starts to cool down on its own when one starts to sweat and if the body doesn’t have enough water stored, it can lead to dehydration. Hence it is advised to take a water break after every 15 minutes of your workout. But make sure not to consume more than 500ml during the exercise as it may make you feel nauseating and give you a headache.

After the workout

Feeding your body post workout is as important as eating before. It is mainly because of the energy used during the exercise which needs to be restored. For after after-training, Chawla recommends, “It is always advised to replenish yourself with electrolytes which are lost during the workout. Coconut water is a good source for it. Feed your body with high protein and low carbohydrates post workout.”

Also, make sure smart food choices as you wouldn’t want to waste the energy and effort spent during the session by eating rich foods and large portions. Devgan suggests, “A combination of low-fat dairy (a great recovery food with plenty of protein) like yoghurt or Greek yoghurt and a fruit or berries, is a perfect combination. Other foods include hard boiled eggs and whole wheat egg rolls (with the yolk). You can also replace egg filling with sweet potatoes. Or one could go for chocolate milk with fruit.”

Other tips to keep in mind:

• Avoid intake of candy and fruit juice before the workout as high-sugar foods may lead to drop in blood-sugar level while exercising that can make you feel tired. Go for whole fruits instead.

• Keep a check on the fibre consumption. Avoid beans and fibrous veggies that can stimulate the digestive system later.

• Hydration is the key. Drink at least half a litre of water 30 to 60 minutes before starting the workout.

• After you finish the workout, give your body at least 30 minutes to cool down before eating.

• Egg with yolks is recommended to be eaten post workout because as the muscle-building response from whole eggs is greater compared to egg whites alone.

• Milk is also a great option for post-workout to rebuild the muscles. Devgan says, “It is 90% water too, so it replaces some of the fluids you lose during exercise and fruit adds the micronutrients, carbs and fibre.”

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