Eating for Your Workout

Categories: For Your Health

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When you're trying to lose weight, tone up or get ripped, it may seem like food is the enemy. However, not eating before or after your workout can actually sabotage your efforts, which is good news if, like me, you treat any invitation to eat like an invite to the royal wedding. Though you may think you will burn more fat by attacking the treadmill on an empty stomach, any extra fat burning will likely be stunted by a weaker workout. Also, it is just as important to eat post workout so the body doesn't go after your newly chiseled muscles to replace energy stores.

The problem that remains, however, is what to eat and how much. If you eat too much before a workout then you'll be weighed down and sluggish; if you eat too little you'll be lightheaded and weak. Similarly, binging after a workout can completely undermine your weight loss goals, while eating too little will prevent optimal muscle recovery.

Here are some tasty options packed with the carbs and protein you need fuel up before and recover after the sweat, without a gross protein bar in sight. Just remember, these are snacks, so keep them to fist sized portions.

Pre-workout (eat about an hour before):

1. One whole grain waffle with peanut butter

2. Homemade Trail Mix

3. Small Greek yogurt parfait topped with a crunchy whole grain cereal

Post-workout: (ideally within 15 minutes to 2 hours after for good recovery)

1. Chocolate Milk

2. Fruit Smoothie

3. Brown Rice Pudding with Banana



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9 comments
Guest
Guest

Hats off to anyone that can get up at 4am, and snarf a whole grain waffle with peanut butter for a 5am workout (to provide a ONE HOUR lead-time!). To each his/her own, but that sounds like a horrible start to a horrible very bad no good day. And, in my opinion, it's completely unnecessary. It's a great snack, to be sure, but not a pre-workout one.

I swear by 1 to 1.5 cups of chocolate milk right before my morning lift. That's it. There's no sugar buzz and ensuing crash of say, OJ, and you've got the ideal mix of protein + sugar + fat to work with (sans a waffle in your gut).

Get an extra 55 minutes of sleep and try the chockomilk. Trust me.

(Another thing... post workout glycogen replacement is usually recommended within 35 minutes, no more. But good luck with that 2 hour figure.)

Comfortablynumb
Comfortablynumb

Good for you! Real men (and women) don't do those squeeze packets of gloop, nor do they wear plastic clothing with cool trade-names to hide the fact they're made of petroleum derivatives.

Francesco Orodinapoli
Francesco Orodinapoli

It may be worth doing a follow-up to this article and investigate the contention of a lot of fitness writers is that you will burn more fat if you do your cardiovascular exercise first thing in the morning before eating and on an empty stomach. There may be some research out there that either confirms or disproves this belief. It would seem then that, if correct, then cardiovascular exercise at any time of day is better on an empty stomach? Just asking.

KP
KP

Those all sound delicious; I typically just stick to greek yogurt or cottage cheese, with maybe a whole-wheat english muffin with raspberry preserves, if I'm feeling labor-intensive.

Laurent Braconnier
Laurent Braconnier

My only comment here is "that sure looks like a lot of sugar, either in the form of sugar or in the form of starch."

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

My favorite post-workout snack is a banana, sliced in half, spread w/ peanut butter plus a glass of skim milk. The protein & the potassium are great, especially after lifting weights.

Kelli
Kelli

I would love to see more posts like this.

VonRudesheim
VonRudesheim

(pls tell the overweight guys in tight, aerodynamic uniforms riding the ho chi minh trails during the weekend. they crack me up.)

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

I've read a lot of claims on both sides--empty stomach vs. full stomach--but I'll share my personal experience. I lost about 25-30 lbs. before I moved to TX from AK and I found that for me personally, exercising on an empty stomach left me too tired to work out hard - the combined lack of energy and a growling stomach did not keep me focused. Granted, I was putting in 90-120 minute gym sessions, 7 days a week. I could (and do, occasionally) rip off 30 minutes of cardio on an empty stomach, but if a person is trying to lose weight (vs. maintain fitness) I think a pre-workout snack is really important, and the keyword here is SNACK. 150-200 calories to stay satiated and to have enough energy to concentrate and work out hard enough to make a difference.

As for post-workout, especially after strength training, a snack is non-negotiable. A little protein, a little carbs, a little fat.

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