When you want to improve your performance and enjoy your workouts in the process, a pre and post workout meal should be a priority. There are no perfect combinations of foods that guarantee optimal performance because there are many individual factors that affect how each of us digests, absorbs and metabolizes what we ingest. But there are ways that work better than others so this information on pre and post workout meal ideas can help you make those good choices. Here are some tips on pre and post workout meal ideas.
Pre and post workout meal ideas
Pre Workout Nutrition
The meals and snacks you eat before you exercise play a huge role in the effectiveness of your workouts. Pre-workout food will fuel your workouts and maximize your efforts and results. A key goal of pre exercise is to increase carbohydrates to minimize muscle depletion.
It is important to time your pre workout meal effectively so that most of the food is out of your stomach and broken down or absorbed by the time you start exercising. Ideally you should eat your last full meal at least 2-3 hours before exercise.
Your pre workout meal should be 70-80% carbohydrates, with around 15% protein and fiber and should be low in fat (10%).
- Pasta with tomato sauce
- Energy bar
- Fruits with yogurt
- Oatmeal or cereal with skimmed milk
- Pizza (reduced cheese or vegetarian)
- Sandwiches or wraps
- Rice or potatoes with chicken or tuna
- Smoothie with milk, oatmeal and fruit
Avoid steak, bacon, sausage, ice cream, cream sauces, fast food. Don’t eat a salad or diet soft drinks before a workout or carbs that are high in sugar, like sweets.
If you are working out first thing in the morning, eat an hour before and make sure you don’t overeat. Just have a snack. Here are some examples:
- Wholegrain bread
- Fruit smoothie
- Cereal bar of around 150 calories
- A handful or two of cereal
- A few wheat crackers
Post workout nutrition
The food you eat after hitting the gym could be the most important food that you eat all day. This is for maximizing your recovery time. Your muscles store excess energy from protein and glycogen and when you workout out your body burns the fuel from your pre workout meal but then moves onto breaking down the glycogen in your muscles. Make sure to eat within a 45-minute window after working out.
So what ingredients for a post workout meal?
Make sure you have carbs, protein, glutamine and electrolytes. The carbs help to replenish the energy reserves, while the protein helps repair muscle tissue. The glutamine speeds up muscle recovery and increases your immune system; and the electrolytes repair the muscles on a cellular level.
Some examples of good post workout meals
- White cheese or peanut butter sandwich
- Low fat chocolate milk
- String white cheese with crackers
- Yogurt with almonds
- Whole grain breakfast cereal
- Hummus and pita
- Recovery drink
- Recovery shake (made with protein powder, glutamine, milk and electrolytes)
Pre and post workout meal ideas also include efficient hydration. Before training you should drink 8-10 oz of water and 6-8 oz of a sports drink or water during the workout. After you should rehydrate the loss of water from the workout. Drinks should contain sodium and maybe some potassium. This include coconut water.
Remember that pre and post workout meal are crucial for recovery, muscle building and getting the most out of your workout.