Whether you resolved to lose weight, increase muscle mass or shave minutes off your 5K time, you will need to eat the right foods to fuel your body for a great workout. You will also need to feed your body after your training session, so you can wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed and ready for another workout. Regardless of your fitness and health goals, consistency is the key to making progress. One good workout a week just isn’t going to cut it.
Getting in a good 30-60 minute workout does not justify eating a whole cake guilt-free. Foods that are high in sugar and fat do not give you lasting energy for your workout, do nothing for muscle repair and leave you feeling sluggish the next day. A moderate to high intensity workout for this length of time does call for a recovery snack. Working out for 90 minutes, plus? Then, you’re going to need a full meal to get the nutrients your body needs.
If you skip a snack or meal altogether and don’t hydrate properly, you might experience a headache from dehydration or find yourself scarfing down high calorie foods later in the day when your body’s glycogen stores are depleted and muscle repairing protein is required. By consuming a protein and carbohydrate balanced snack within 30 minutes after your workout, you will set yourself up for success.
Here are some great pre/post workout snack ideas that are vegan, delicious and easy:
Stock up on dried fruit and nuts. Whether its raisins and walnuts, pitted dates stuffed with almonds or some macadamia nuts with mango, dried fruit and nut/seed combinations are easy to keep in your gym bag for a quick, on-the-go snack. Grab a handful of nuts and fruit after your workout to curb your appetite.
Use energy bars right. Working out when you have hunger pangs is not pleasant. You don’t have the energy to get through your workout and it’s easy to get side-tracked. However, don’t let the fact that you missed lunch keep you from the gym. Grab any one of these vegan energy bars to eat 1-2 hours before you exercise. The energy bar will give you the pick-me-up you need to get through your workout. If a whole bar is too much, you can eat half before your workout and save the rest to eat within 30 minutes after your sweat session.
Eat a full meal 2-3 hours before your workout. In a perfect world, when you can wake up 2 hours before your morning workout, this would be the optimal time to have a full breakfast consisting of a whole grain like spelt bread or oatmeal, dried or fresh fruit and protein like nut/seed butter, whole nuts or tofu scramble.
If you don’t have time to chew it, blend it. Try any of these delicious smoothie recipes for an energy-boosting pre-workout snack or add brown rice, soy or hemp protein powder for your post-workout recovery drink.
You might also enjoy:
- Banana, apple or celery with 1 tablespoon natural nut or seed butter
- One piece of whole grain toast with nut/seed butter
- Almond or soy yogurt with mixed berries and granola
- 8-ounce glass of almond or soy milk with fruit
- 1 cup of beans and brown rice mixture
The most important thing to remember when fueling your workout is that every body is different. As you increase the intensity or duration of your workouts, you may need to moderately increase your (nutrient-dense) food intake. Or, you may find that you eat too much before your workouts and your stomach needs time to properly digest your food before taking that Power Abs class. It’s okay (in fact, encouraged) to experiment with the different types of food, amount and times you eat before exercise. Keeping a food journal is the best tool for pin-pointing what really works (or doesn’t work) for you.
All the best in fitness and health.