Listen up. We tend to over complicate “wellness”, especially when it comes to nutrition. With so much information out there – not to mention the amount of products and trends constantly popping up on our social feeds, figuring out what to eat is HARD. I’m going to preface today’s post with this:
STOP OVERCOMPLICATING YOUR NUTRITION. YOU CAN 100% REACH YOUR HEALTH & WELLNESS GOALS BY SIMPLIFYING THINGS: EAT CLEAN/WHOLE INGREDIENTS, ENJOY YOUR FAVORITE TREATS, DRINK ENOUGH WATER AND GET LOTS OF REST AND QUALITY MOVEMENT.
There is no need to restrict yourself, count calories, track macros, cut out food groups, fast, etc. Now, are there benefits to some of these things for some people? Sure! Tuning in and drilling down on a more strict/focused plan will obviously lead to quicker results but let’s be real, it’s not as fun or easy or realistic or attainable for most people. And if it’s for you, that’s okay.
And if you’re not interested in a ton of structure, that’s okay, too. Today’s post isn’t meant to add any confusion or complications. It is, however, meant to support your goals and make things easier. If you read this post and feel overwhelmed, click out and continue what you’re doing!
So, why did I bother to write this post? I get a ton of questions about pre and post workout nutrition. “What should I eat before a workout??”, “What should I eat after a workout?”, “I’m not hungry in the morning – do I have to eat before I workout”…raise your hand if you can relate to any of this.
Long story short: how you fuel your body does matter. It doesn’t mean you have to eat steamed chicken and salads for every meal. Enjoy the pasta, the cheeseburgers, the ice cream, the margarita. Also – enjoy the protein packed taco bowl, bulky smoothie, queso and veggie sticks, etc. It does mean that you should be fueling your workouts and your body so it can recover, build and get stronger.
What to Eat Pre-Workout
I like to eat something about 30 minutes to three hours before my workout, depending on the time of day I’m getting in a sweat sesh. This can totally be customized. I definitely suggest experimenting to see what timeframe works best for your body and your workout/activity.
I personally work out first thing in the morning, about an hour after waking. Because I don’t wake up ready to eat at 5:30/6:00am, I usually sip on a protein shake or have a piece of fruit and peanut butter.
On days when I get in an afternoon workout instead, I usually aim to either have a small snack about 30 minutes before heading to the gym or I’ll time my workout 2-3 hours after having a balanced breakfast or lunch.
CARBS + PROTEIN
Your snacks/meals should consist of both carbs and protein. And before you freak about the carbs…first of all, it’s 2021. You should know by know that carbs are not the enemy. And in case you’re still not convinced, Carbohydrates break down into glucose, enter our muscle cells, and give us fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity. Your muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen and dip into these reserves when you’re putting them to work.
You also want to make sure you’re getting in protein before your workout, especially if you’re doing weight training. During a strength training workout, we create small tears in our muscle fibers. When you rest, your body repairs those mini tears, making your msucles bigger and stronger. And you need protein to do that.
Some of my favorite carbs to get in pre-workout: granola bar (watch out for ingredients and sugars), gluten-free oatmeal, gluten-free toast, rice cake, bananas.
Some of my favorite proteins to get in pre-workout: nut butters, clean protein powder, turkey, hardboiled eggs, nuts, greek yogurt.
PRE-WORKOUT SNACK IDEAS
- Protein smoothie: nut milk of choice, protein powder or collagen, 1 tbsp nut butter, greens (1/4 cup fruit optional)
- Apple or banana with 1-2 tbsp nut butter
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Mixed nuts
- Rice cake with almond butter
- Gluten-free oats with berries or nut butter
- Two hardboiled eggs
- Turkey roll ups
What to Eat Post-Workout
The most important thing after a workout is to make sure you’re rehydrating that amazing, strong body of yours. Replenishing the fluids you lost while sweating as soon as you can is even more important than eating right away. I personally aim to drink half of my bodyweight in ounces of water every day. If I’m working out that day, I am to add an additional 8-16 ounces of water.
I like to have a small snack or time my meals after a workout to make sure I’m refueling after a grueling workout. Because I workout in the mornings, I usually have my breakfast within 30 minutes of completing my workout. If my workout is between meals, I’ll have snack.
BUILD YOUR SNACK/MEAL
Since you’ve blown through glycogen and tore those muscles, you want to make sure your post-workout snack or meal is packed with complex carbohydrates and lots of healthy protein.
- Whole wheat or gluten-free toast with 1 tbsp nut butter and 1/2 banana
- 1 side of a whole wheat or gluten-free bagel with turkey
- Wasa crackers with nut butter and an apple
- 2 hardboiled eggs with a slice of toat/bagel
- Whole wheat pita with 2 tbsp hummus and veggies
- Protein smoothie: protein powder, unsweetened nut milk, 1/4 cup fruit (berries or bananas work great), greens, 1 tbsp nut butter, 1 tbsp chia seeds
- Baked sweet potato with shredded chicken and salsa