With the seasons changing and several new faces consistently coming to the gym, we’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about nutrition. Specifically, people are wondering what they should be eating to fuel themselves before and after they workout.
This is a great question to ask, as we’re big believers in the power of properly fueling our bodies with the nutrients necessary to perform. However, nutrition is something that’s so personal due to our differing genetic makeups, individualized workouts, customized fitness goals, etc, that it’s difficult to put together a complete list of what you should or shouldn’t eat at any time. Though there are some general “rules-of-thumb” that we can share.
First, we’ll dive immediately into our suggestions for pre- and post-workout nutrition, then we’ll break it down so that you can personalize your own nutrition plan a bit.
What to Eat Before and After You Workout
Here at The REBEL Workout, we’re big fans of utilizing natural supplements to some extent, but that’s also because we are not big fans of using supplements that artificially adjust your body to “trick” it in some way.
For example, many pre-workout drinks contain a ton of sugar and random chemicals that are designed to spike your energy, but taste like dessert. These can be incredibly taxing on the body and can mess with our hormones in a number of ways.
But, depending on your workout, understand that we do suggest fueling your body before you step foot in the gym. For example, if you’re joining our Bike + Barre classes, eating something pre-workout will help you have the energy you need to crush out a solid workout.
Same as pre-workout, your needs for nutrition are completely individual based on our goals and bodily make up for post-workout, as well. Though, especially if you’re joining us for classes at REBEL, we do typically recommend feeding your body some healthy nutrients following a taxing workout.
So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty:
- Carbohydrates and protein are typically best before working out
- Fruits and dried fruits
- Try to keep fat at a minimum
- If you recently ate a substantial meal (an hour or so prior), then you’re likely good without something specifically pre-workout unless your workout is going to be very intense
- Carbohydrates and protein are, again, best
- A moderate/low amount of fat is usually beneficial
- A complete meal full of whole foods would likely be ideal. A perfect example would be a protein, vegetables, both cooked using a high quality fat.
- If you’re in a hurry, a piece of fruit works, but you’d want to supplement it with some protein (ex. a protein shake)
There are a few things you we suggest considering as you’re planning your personalized pre- and post-workout meals.
How is your energy level if you ate prior?
If you find yourself feeling sluggish during your workouts, even if you’ve eaten a bit prior, then you’ve likely eaten too much in general, or too much fat. Try replacing the fat in your meal with good carbs and protein so that your body can digest your meal faster throughout your workout.
How is your energy level before you work out in general?
If it’s low, add in a small bit of carbohydrates, like a piece of fruit to give you some energy. Though, if you’re feeling great, then it’s likely that whatever you ate throughout the day is fueling you enough and you may not need to focus on eating additional foods prior to working out.
If you’re feeling very tired and lethargic and are considering adding a pre-workout drink, we’d suggest that you consider trying a bulletproof coffee or green tea prior. It may be that you just need a little caffeine to spark your energy and get your blood flowing.
When should you eat? Is nutrient timing important?
We hear a lot about this so-called “nutrient timing”... but here’s the thing. While some people should be super strict with the timing of their nutrients, for the majority of us, it really doesn’t matter. What’s most important is your overall nutrient intake throughout the day. Supplying our bodies with whole, nourishing foods on a regular basis so that we are fueled with protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and fiber allows our bodies to perform and stay in peak condition.
While we hear a lot about our body processing foods immediately, that’s not exactly the case. Don’t overlook what you’re eating throughout the full day leading up to your workouts. Even nutrition we consume the day prior impacts our performance.
Feel free to reach out to us and we can set you up with one of our resident nutritionists if you’d like a plan that is customized to your needs. Email us at email@example.com to learn more.
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