What should you really be eating before and after a workout?

Nutrition and exercise are inextricably linked. If you aren’t giving your body the right fuel it needs to function, then you’ll have a tough time reaching your fitness goals. So taking care with what you eat before and after your workout is vital to ensuring your body operates at its peak.

What to eat pre-workout

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It’s important to begin your workout well hydrated and with ample glycogen (the stored form of glucose) to get you powering through your routine at full capacity. Why? Because when the body starts exercising glycogen is broken down and released as glucose into the bloodstream for energy.

Depending on when you last ate you may have enough stored glycogen to fuel an entire workout without needing to reach for a pre-workout snack. If it’s been a while between meals, or you feel like you need a little oomph in your energy levels, it’s best to go for a low-GI option. That way the glucose will be released slowly and steadily into your blood stream. Try reaching for a small snack such as nuts, Greek yoghurt, berries, an apple or a kiwifruit. Just remember to consume your snack at 30 minutes prior to exercise for best results.

What to eat post-workout

When you go hard during a gym sesh your body gets put under a bit of pressure. Intense exercise has the ability to put strain on your bones, muscles and joints. Not to mention it zaps up a lot of your nutrients! As a result your body goes into recovery mode following exercise and needs three things to refuel:

– Quality lean protein to assist muscle and tissue repair.

– Good carbohydrates to restock those glycogen levels. For best results, choose foods that are high in magnesium and potassium to help aid muscle aches such banana, sweet potato and spinach.

– Healthy fats to aid circulation and healing.

To treat your body like the temple it is, ensure you eat a balanced snack or meal combining these three elements post-workout. Ideally within 30 minutes of training. Some nourishing options are a banana and nut protein smoothie, lean fish or chicken cooked in coconut oil with vegetables, or rolled oats with yoghurt and chopped nuts. Most importantly don’t forget to rehydrate!

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