Nutrition and wellness play a crucial role in the overall health and wellness of a person. Importantly, the two factors affect each other. With proper nutrition, one can support exercise and help the body to recover and adapt. However, one question always comes up, as to whether one should eat before or after a workout.
This may be particularly relevant to those who exercise first in the morning. So, should one have early morning pre-workout food? Should one eat after working out?
According to experts, nutrition is good for both instances. To some extent, how and when one should power the body is the same for nearly all exercises. However, a few nutritional tweaks may come up based on the exercise routine. Generally, the body needs a meal of high carbs and protein and low in fat at least three to four hours before a workout.
This is important whether one is trying to lose weight, burn fat, or build muscle. Carbohydrates are the best suppliers of glycogen, which the body needs during a workout. The moment one ignores carbs, the muscles lag when called to perform.
For those who are trying to lose weight, it might be counterproductive to a high-carb meal before exercise. However, complex carbohydrates such as lentils, beans, whole grains, or starchy vegetables can provide nutrients, fuel, and fiber needed during exercise.
According to research, complex carbs cannot increase appetite unlike processed carbohydrates like cookies, white bread, soft drinks, or pre-packaged foods. Additionally, the food to eat before an early morning workout should include fat because it slows down digestion while eating protein supports the muscles.
Muscle cells break down and rebuild during and after a workout. Experts recommend eating the right proteins that contain amino acids, which the muscles need to complete the cellular rebuilding process.
According to nutrition experts, animal sources of protein such as chicken or lean beef are complete protein packages because they contain all the amino acids. Similarly, whole grains like bulgur and quinoa, as well as beans and some vegetables equally deliver protein though it’s not the “complete” kind. Those who eat a variety of those food sources can skip the meat and still get the amino acids needed.
Regardless of whether one eats before or after a workout, the most important thing is to time it right. As a rule of thumb, one should aim to take a snack or mini-meal at least one to three hours before exercise. This is important because a lot of blood goes to the muscles during a workout, which leaves less for digestion.
After a workout, the body can refuel and reconstruct the muscle tissue. Experts recommend eating within an hour of finishing the exercise. The following are some of the foods that experts recommend before and after workout:
Bread and jelly
Bread is a good source of carbohydrates to supply the body with the energy the muscles need during a workout. Coupled with peanut butter, one can get a dose of protein, which is important in keeping full. It also helps suppress post-workout cravings and excessive eating.
According to research, eating small amounts of peanuts could help one maintain a healthy weight. For instance, a half a sandwich could be all one needs when heading on an easy walk or yoga class.
Oatmeal with low-fat milk and a fruit
For those working out in the morning, experts recommend starting the day with a bowl of fiber-rich whole-grain like oatmeal and fruit. The body digests the carbohydrates in this combination more slowly, while keeping the blood sugar levels steady. Consequently, one feels energized for longer. A cup of low-fat milk could inject an extra dose of protein and bone-building calcium.
These are just a few examples of what one can take as early morning workout food. Otherwise, there are vast options to explore.
After a period of physical exercise, the body requires nutrition to rebuild the muscles. Here are a few examples of what experts recommend:
Egg and whole-wheat toast
The carbs in a toast replenish the energy burned during exercise, as the fiber keeps blood sugar levels balanced. This post-workout meal is best served with an egg for the best results. The combo is a complete protein, which delivers all 9 of the essential amino acids the body uses to build muscle.
This childhood favorite delivers the ideal ratio of carbohydrates to protein—about 4:1. This refuels and rebuilds the muscles. According to one study, athletes who take a glass of chocolate milk after a workout recover faster than those who take a carb-specific sports beverage. Besides, 90 percent of chocolate milk is water, so it replenishes some of the fluids lost during exercise.
Greek yogurt and fruit
A cup of this buttery treat delivers up to 20 grams of protein. To boost its effectiveness and add energy-boosting carbs, one can top the bowl with fruit. For instance, adding antioxidant-heavy blueberries can give more benefits. Research reveals that after eating this combination post-workout, one can beat muscle inflammation caused by exercise.
A healthy and well-balanced diet could help in delivering the calories and nutrients that one needs to reach training goals. With the right nutrition, the body gets the fuel it needs during and after a workout.
At Next Level Fitness, we have professional trainers to guide all customers on the right track with a balanced diet that helps them accomplish their fitness goals. Here are some of the reasons why we stand out:
Top trainers: Next Level Fitness has a team of Nashville’s best personal trainers to motivate participants to their fullest potential.
Training schedule: We offer professional guidance so participants can have a routine that fits in their busy schedules.
Video training: Next Level Fitness offers training videos where our fitness trainers can show participants how to improve their training.
Balanced diet: Our professionals help participants establish a diet plan with our training experts to help them reach their training goals.
Whether or not to eat before or after a workout is a common dilemma, especially for those who exercise first thing in the morning. The importance of eating an early morning pre-workout food may vary according to the situation, but some experts agree that it’s beneficial to eat a balanced post-workout meal.
This may help the muscles to recover and adapt after a workout. Overall, it depends on personal preference. In both cases, nutrition is important.