by Terry Kozmor
No matter how often or intensely we exercise, we cannot undo the poor food choices that we make. Rather than thinking of food as “good” or “bad,” I like to think of food as our energy source. Food is the fuel that powers our body. With the proper fueling, we are able to perform at optimal levels. With poor fueling we feel sick, lack energy, and perform less than we would like.
Maintaining a proper nutritional plan throughout the day prevents spiking insulin levels. It is important to avoid the “high” and “low” often felt with eating too much sugar or too large of meals. While many people overcomplicate diet, it is important to note that there are suggested macronutrient combinations that are ideal to eat pre and post workout.
For example, the days that you have a more intense workout, you’ll want to make sure that you properly hydrate and fuel your body both before and after working out.
The idea of a pre-workout snack is to give you a burst of energy from a sugar, and a release of energy from a carbohydrate that will get you through your workout. Try to have this snack at least 45 minutes prior to working out. An ideal snack is a fast burning carbohydrate, such as a rice cake with almond butter and banana, or greek yogurt with berries and granola. If you need a snack on the go, you can always grab a protein bar.
In order to gain lean muscle, you need to replenish what was lost. Filling your body with healthy post-workout fuel is critical. Ideally, eat this snack within 60 minutes of finishing your workout. This snack should be a combination of low carbohydrates and protein (using a 3:1 ratio), such as a shake with protein, fruit, and spinach. Another great post-workout snack would be deli turkey and hummus rolled in lettuce. If you need a snack on the go, try some chocolate milk.
Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of not only what to eat before and after your workout, but also why it is important. Remember, food is fuel for our body!