After exercise you often feel virtuous and encouraged to stay healthy for the rest of the day. Healthy, though, does not mean restrictive – definitely not. Your body needs food before and after exercising to perform at its best and recover most effectively. It’s best to have protein and carbs before a workout, and protein and healthy fats afterwards. Here are 3 pre and post-workout foods you should consider eating and why!
- Protein smoothie – many people like to eat protein after their workout, but beforehand might actually be more beneficial. The most efficient way to get protein through your system is through powder because it is easily absorbed. Having the amino acids in your system before exercising means that as soon as your muscles become fatigued, they can be repaired quickly. Waiting until afterwards could mean a higher risk of DOMS and less muscular gains.
- Protein porridge – porridge oats are a complex carb which also has a high protein content. Eating porridge at least an hour before you exercise gives you an energy boost. It also sets you up for a great workout. Add in some protein powder to get your pre-workout protein at the same time.
- Banana – back in my rowing days, my coach would always tell me to eat a banana before morning training or an ergo test. This advice has stuck with me ever since. It releases sugar at a good pace – not too quickly that you are super strong for the first 5 mins then slump, but quick enough to reap its benefits. It’s also substantial, unlike a single apple, so will satisfy you before a workout. If you’re feeling super dedicated, chop up half a banana, add some almond milk, porridge oats and chocolate protein powder to the bowl. Eat it about an hour before you plan to workout.
- Dates with peanut butter – after a workout you want to replenish your body with good fats and protein. Fatty acids help reduce inflammation which is essential after exercising (1)! One of the best foods to do this is nut butter. It’s bursting with goodness and will fill you back up after you’ve pushed yourself to the limits. Dates give PB a sweet, rich taste, meaning you can healthily indulge.
- Quinoa – protein, complex carbs, the whole shebang. There’s nothing worse than feeling lightheaded or tired after you’ve hit the gym. Quinoa will give you sparkle to bring you back from the post-workout haze. For a savoury dish, add roasted veg, tahini and rosemary. For the sweet tooth add in some berries and chocolate protein powder – yummy!
- Avocado with lemon – sometimes a light, green sustenance is in order rather than sweet stodge! Slice up some avo, squeeze over some lemon and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. The healthy fat in avocado is called oleric acid which is anti-inflammatory to help reduce DOMS. After eating this, you’ll feel both refuelled and virtuous.