One rule you should always abide by: Never exercise on an empty stomach! Eating a combination of carbs and protein before a workout is important. Carbohydrates are essential for giving you the energy you need to power through a workout, while protein helps you repair and build muscle.
These are a few of my favorite snacks that keep me from feeling overly-full when heading to a workout class:
All of these snacks are easy to put together and tasty as well… and each one gives you a good combination of protein and carbs to get through a workout.
Aim for eating about an hour before working out, so your food has time to digest.
But while eating before is great, did you know the most important part of exercise nutrition is what you eat after an intense workout?
Eating immediately after a workout helps your body repair muscle tissues and replenish glycogen stores, which are depleted during a strenuous workout. The calories you take in after a workout don’t go to fat storage… they go towards repair and recovery. And when you eat is important, too! Studies show that your body’s ability to refill muscle energy stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait two hours to eat instead of eating right after a workout.
A combination of protein and carbs will aid in rebuilding muscles and replacing the carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during the workout.
My favorite thing to eat after a workout is a Clif Z bar (the chocolate brownie flavor is heaven!). The reason I love these bars is they’re low in calories (only 120 cals per bar) and they offer 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. They’re perfect for stashing in your purse and they don’t require making a mess in the kitchen. Winner!
Another favorite is chocolate milk, which beats out sports drinks for rebuilding and refueling muscles after exercise. The reason? Chocolate milk provides the perfect balance of protein and carbs. It’s also easy to digest and re-hydrates you after a sweaty gym sesh. Just be sure to choose low-fat to avoid excess fat and sugar!
The best thing about all these snacks? They’re all under 200 calories… and they’re all interchangeable. A Greek yogurt parfait is just as perfect as a post-workout snack as a Clif Z bar is for pre-workout. The important thing to remember is that what you eat before and after a workout does matter.
Happy snacking! 🙂