You work hard every time you go to the gym. You get in those miles, pump some iron, and focus on your form. But in order to maximize your time in the weight room, you can’t forget about the time before and after the gym. Giving your body the proper pre- and post-workout nutrition is instrumental in getting you the fitness results you want. So what should you eat? Here a few options.
Pre-Workout (30 – 60 minutes before exercise)
• Bananas – During an intense workout, your potassium levels drop and you run the risk of losing energy. Simply eating one potassium-loaded banana can help you maintain high levels of energy.
• Trail Mix – You should aim for a mix with nuts and dried fruit, as opposed to one that contains sugary, fattening candies such as M&Ms. Nuts will prevent your insulin levels from dropping during your workout, and the dried fruit will provide you with some healthy sugars for quick energy. The phosphorus and zinc found in trail mix ingredients will promote muscle growth and boost energy.
• Oatmeal – Oats are both low on the glycemic index and also full of fiber. This means that the carbs you get from eating oatmeal are released into your bloodstream gradually, keeping your energy levels constant throughout your workout. Oats are also full of B vitamins, which help convert carbs into energy.
Post-Workout (up to 1 hour after exercise)
• Protein Shakes – One of the easiest ways to get post-workout nutrition is to drink a whey protein shake. Your muscles need protein to grow, and whey protein is digested quickly and thus gets into your system quickly to re-build your muscles after you tear them apart at the gym. Ideally, you should aim for a shake that gives you at least 20g of whey protein. You can find some great whey protein shakes at stores such as GNC and Vitamin Shoppe.
• Rice – Many people don’t realize that complex carbohydrates, such as those found in rice, are actually more important for your body after a workout than protein. Carbohydrates help replace glycogen (which is the fuel for your muscles) after a workout, and they also help you to prepare for your next exercise session. You want to aim to get in twice as many grams of carbs than protein, so if you’re getting 20 grams of protein post-workout you want to get 40 grams of carbs. In addition to rice, try rice cakes, which are convenient and require no preparation, a few slices of bed, or a small bowl of pasta.
By Gabe Sansone