June 18, 2024

Wellness Wednesday Nutrition for Workouts

Fuel your gains with the power of nutrition.

When it comes to achieving health-related goals, nutrition and exercise go hand-in-hand. And planning your snacks or meals in advance can help support these goals. But what are the best practices for nutrition for workouts?

As with everything in the nutrition world, the answer is: it depends. There are a lot of factors involved in determining the best foods to eat before and after a workout, including the type of physical activity, the duration, the intensity, your specific goals, and more. While this may sound overwhelming, there are general guidelines to help get you started.

Pre-workout nutrition

Let’s start with pre-workout nutrition. Most of the nutrients consumed before your workout should come from carbohydrates. Carbs immediately fuel your body, just as gasoline fuels your car.

Eating a little protein is helpful as well, as this can “prime” your muscles before your pump session. Try to limit foods with a high amount of fat or fiber before working out — they could upset your stomach!

Some good examples of pre-workout fuel choices include:

  • fat-free Greek yogurt with berries
  • fruit with a little bit of nut butter
  • a protein bar with fruit

Post-workout nutrition

What you eat after a workout is also critical. This is the time that your body is recovering from the hard work you just put it through. The foods you eat after your pump sesh are to replenish glycogen (the energy stored in our muscles), muscle tissue and electrolytes.

Like our pre-workout food, post-workout fuel should include carbs and protein, with more emphasis on protein. When we are exercising, especially weightlifting, the fibers in our muscles are damaged. Consuming an adequate amount of protein after your workout helps repair these damaged muscle fibers and promotes the development of new muscle tissue. Translation — it helps you make gains!

Eating proper fuel after working out maximizes your ability to grow muscle, lift heavier, and increase endurance. Some good examples of post-workout fueling include:

  • yogurt with fruit
  • a protein shake with fruit
  • chicken on rice with veggies
  • a turkey or ham sandwich on whole grain bread

Sleep

So, this is branching just outside of nutrition, but sleep is an important fuel for your workouts. Without rest, our body struggles to rebuild muscle fibers and recharge. This means more fatigue, less energy and a higher potential for injury. Adults should aim for around seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

 

Remember, nutrition for workouts will look different for everyone. Consult your doctor or dietician to determine a plan that matches your activity level, food tolerances, preferences and, most importantly, goals. Then, stock your fridge and pantry with plenty of good choices, stay consistent with your workouts and watch the progress roll in.

This Week's Recipe from the American Heart Association

Rosemary-Peach Chicken Kebabs with Orange Glaze
Better Health in 90 - Nutrition: Fuel for Your Workouts