Eating to maximize your workout

Starting a fitness routine is not nearly as challenging as sticking to one. One of the simplest ways to make it easier is by paying attention to how you eat before and after exercising. The more energy you have, the more eager you’ll be to start, the longer you’ll stay active, and the quicker you’ll recover.

It’s all about what and when you eat

If you’ve ever eaten a big meal less than 30 minutes before exercising, you’ll have felt that heavy, crampy feeling. It was a result of your body diverting blood from your digestive system to your muscles. How about exercising on an empty stomach, done that? Then you’ve also experienced that light-headed, weary sensation, a result of plummeting blood sugar.

Eating right pre-workout

It’s best to eat 3-4 hours before a workout. Aim for meals that are:

  • high in carbohydrate
  • moderate in protein
  • low in fat and fibre

Carbs help maximize your body’s ability to use glycogen stored in your muscles and help you perform. If you’re in need of inspiration, here are some great examples of pre- and post-workout snacks and meals, based on workout times, developed and endorsed by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute.

 

Early morning training Mid-morning training Afternoon training Snack 30 mins

before training

 

· Energy bar and banana

· Bag of dry cereal, granola and a few nuts

· A fruit shake with plant-based milk i.e. oat, almond, soya

 

· Oatmeal with a spoon of peanut butter mixed into it

· Fruit

· Plant-based milk mixed with whey powder

· Chickpea and avocado salad sandwich/wrap

· Cold pasta salad

· Fruit

· Energy bar

 

· Energy bar

· Granola bar

· Fruit

· Small fruit smoothie

 

Eating right post workout

You will need protein to rebuild muscles, and carbohydrates to refuel muscles and replenish your glycogen. Preferably, eat a healthy snack shortly after exercise and then a full meal within 2 hours.

 

Post-training snack Post-training meal (1-2 hours after training)
· Energy bar

· Fruit yogurt with granola

· Smoothie: plant-based milk, fruit, whey protein powder

· Trail mix with cereal, granola, small amount of nuts

 

· Rolled oats topped with soy yoghurt, chia seeds, chopped nuts, and berries

· Tofu and vegetable ginger soy stir-fry with basmati rice

· Lentil burger with salad on a multi-grain bun

 

Just add water

It’s extremely important to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising. Water energizes your muscles, protects your joints, improves digestion, transports nutrients and oxygen through the bloodstream, increases alertness, alleviates headaches, and keeps your skin looking heathy. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. If you’re not properly hydrated, your body simply won’t perform at its highest level, and will struggle to recover.

Eating the right thing at the right time makes a big difference to your workout. Not only in how well you do it, but also in keeping you motivated. If you’re looking for an added energy boost, consider nutritional supplements. There are some really good ones out there, but it’s important to know what you need before choosing one. To learn more about them, click here.


This Healthy Living article was developed by PepsiCo in partnership with the Saudi SFA

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