Eating a full meal before and after training isn’t always the easiest thing to do. For many of us, when fatigue sets in after a long and hard day at the gym, the last thing we want to do is to throw all of those burnt calories away for a delicious, fattening meal. Many people, however, don’t realize that you don’t have to waste all of those burnt calories on a greasy hamburger, or a sugary chocolate bar. In fact, there are so many alternatives to this problem that many of us face on a day-to-day basis, and here, we’ll cover them all!
One question that I have been asked time and time again is, “What should I eat before, and then after I finish training?” Most often, my response varies, because it is completely dependent on the individual asking. For example, a muscle builder may need to consume more protein in his/her diet, while the average person just trying to lose a few pounds should cut back on the carbohydrates and bulky calories.
As a human, your body strives to build, and alternatively, repair muscle twenty-four hours a day. When you aren’t active and moving around at the gym, your internal structures are. Fortunately, we can make this process easier on our hard-working bodies, and consume some of the “good” calories, as opposed to the unwanted ones.
A pre-workout snack should be consumed roughly 30-60 minutes before hitting the gym (or wherever you intend to break a sweat and shed a few pounds). These snacks will often vary in calories, shape, and size. However, if you pay close attention to the number of calories, and amount of carbohydrates in your salivating pre-workout snack, you and your body will be on the highway to recovery!
Here are some of the best (and healthiest) pre-workout snacks:
1. Yogurt parfait. Stick to low-fat yogurt with this one (if you’re making it yourself). An 8-ounce serving of low-fat yogurt will supply you with about 448 milligrams of calcium, and 13 grams of protein. Plain yogurt tends to be healthier than flavored yogurt, so keep that in mind when you’re whipping this up! To spice this snack up, try adding some fruit (such as strawberries, blueberries, peaches and grapes.)
2. Classic fruit cup. For this pre-workout snack, we’ll simply combine 1 cup of berries (your choice, though I would suggest blueberries, to make for a healthy heart), a few slices of melon, banana, and oranges.
3. Energy in a bar. So many times, while browsing the grain aisle at the grocery store, we come across these energy bars that all have one marketing line in common: add some healthy fuel to kickstart your body! The question is, however, do they work? And the answer is, yes! If you pay close attention to the nutrition label, and be mindful of sugar and carbohydrates, you’ll be on your way to an energized workout — and isn’t that what we’re all here for?
4. Energy gel. You can find these puppies at any health food market, such as Gu, or Honey Stinger. However, if you consume one of these, just make sure it isn’t the only thing you’re eating before a heavy workout session! Eat a banana, or a half-cup of berries with it.
5. Leafy greens. Everyone loves a salad, don’t they? In fact, most people cringe at the idea of that plain lettuce. Did you know that you could actually make this meal really enjoyable, though? Try 1 cup of salad with some vegetables (any of your choice), 1 hardboiled egg, and a teaspoon of your favorite low-fat dressing. I don’t know about you, but my favorite is Italian!
Now, in order to kickstart that workout of yours, we’ve listed some of the top snacks (as seen above) to get you and your body into the game. It’s time to talk about post-workout snacks. These will restore your lost energy and help you to unwind from that harsh session at the gym!
1. Protein bar. These are store-bought (though you can make your own if desired), and they offer a quick fix to your energy problem (or lack thereof!) Aim for a bar that has 10-30 grams of protein, and less than 10 grams of sugar.
2. Whole grain bagel with egg whites. A medium-sized bagel, made with 2 egg whites makes for a marvelous post-workout sandwich!
3. Milk and oats. Pretty basic, but so nutritional. Add cinnamon, fruits or stevia to add more flavors. Stay away from the sugar on this one!
And last, but certainly not least…
4. Scrambled eggs. To spice this up, add some chopped onion and bell peppers!
What is your favorite pre/post-workout snack? Let me know in the comments!