For this week's wellness topic, I turned to Jessica Furey to get a sense of what to eat before and after a workout. Jessica is a seasoned personal trainer and a nutritionist who exercises and eats right every day. So, she's got the inside scoop -- as an expert and on a personal level -- regarding how to fuel up before and after a sweat session.
P.S. If you didn't see her recommended superfoods to improve well-being, please check it out!
Now I'm turning it over to Jessica...
In my many years of personal training, I've learned most people turn to caffeine, energy drinks and/or sugar for fuel. Although coffee and suger-y drinks can provide some energy, there are foods that work far better by providing healthy endurance and helping the muscular and cardiovascular systems function properly.
I often hear my clients say they're not hungry before a workout or they feel nauseous if they do eat. The latter may be the body's natural response to pre-workout eating (which is fine!), or it may be that you're not eating they right foods or adjusting to a new workout regimen.
When it comes to post-workout meals, you should eat no later than one hour after working out. This is because exercise causes the body to release glycogen and lactic acid, thus the muscles burn off energy reserves. Properly fueling and feeding the body with protein and carbs allows the workout to deliver positive results on the body.
Building the right foods into your exercise routine can help with endurance, rebuilding muscles and generally refuel the body after an energy-depleting workout. Here are my recommended foods for pre- and post-workout:
Pre-Workout Meal Options
A handful of almonds (12-20 almonds)
A rice cake with 2 tablespoons of any nut butter (almond, peanut, etc.)
A slice of avocado toast
A cup of fruit with some nuts
2 ounces of avocado with assorted veggies
1-2 slices of Ezekiel toast with 1.5-2 tablespoons of butter
A Kind bar
Post-Workout Meal Options
Protein shake, like this recipe: 20 grams of protein powder, 1/2 cup to 1 cup of fruit (bananas, berries, etc.), 1cup of raw leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.), 1 tablespoon of nut butter, and 8 ounces of liquid, (water, coconut water, almond milk, etc.). Blend with ice
1 cup of Greek yogurt with 1 cup of fruit
A piece of fruit, paired with a scoop of protein powder shaken with water
When it comes to daily meals that help maintain lean muscle tone, women should keep their protein to 3-4 ounces on average. Men should eat 5-6 ounces. However, this can vary for bodybuilding and athletes. Here's an example how to build this portion size into a dinner:
3-4 ounces of chicken or fish
1 cup of steamed veggies (e.g. broccoli or spinach)
3-4 ounces of sweet potato or 1/4 to 3/4 cup of brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil drizzled on the meat and veggies
Maintaining balance in your daily diet is the most effective way to get results from exercise and physical goals. By eating every 2.5 to 3.5 hours, you can maintain energy levels throughout the day as well as stabilize a healthy metabolism.
Jessica Furey is a AAAI/ISMA-certified personal trainer and NASM-certified personal fitness trainer and nutrition. She also has certifications in yoga and Pilates.