How to Fuel Pre & Post Workout

by Chrissy on July 5, 2014

Preworkout-MealBefore a workout or competition you want to supply your body with the right amount of nutrients it needs to perform at it’s optimal potential. Each athlete is unique and has different requirements.  Test and adjust your needs to find out what fits you and your body the best. A pre-workout “meal” should be light and carbohydrate-based to give your working muscles fuel to perform.  Remember to also hydrate!  Finish your pre-workout meal about one to three hours before your workout or competition. It is not recommended to eat a meal immediately before competing. You need to give yourself enough time to digest the food and therefore a small snack might work; practice and see what works best for you.

For your pre-event meal, carbohydrates should be the main focus with moderate protein and low in fat, consisting of about 500 calories. Carbohydrates are the fuel that keeps your body (and brain) going during game day and protein is what helps build and repair your muscles. Some good choices for a pre-workout meal or snack include:

  • Peanut butter toast with a banana
  • Oatmeal with fruit and low-fat milk
  • An apple with almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Toast with 1 large egg, ½ C strawberries, and 1 C apple juice
  • 1 baked potato with butter or trans-fat free margarine with a small piece of lean protein like chicken or fish and a green veggie

For your recovery, focus on hydration. Gain back the water weight you lost during your work out.  The sooner you eat, the better. Within 15-30 minutes of your work out you want to eat carbohydrates and protein, in a 2:1 – 3:1 ratio. The carbs will help replenish the lost glycogen in your muscles and the protein will help build and repair muscle tissue. A good rule of thumb is to eat about 0.5 grams of carbs for every pound of your own body weight. For example, you weigh 150 lbs, so you would consume at least 75 grams of carbs. Some good choices for a post-work out meal or snack include:

  • Smoothie made with yogurt, milk, and fruit
  • Sports drink (to give you carbs, fluids, and electrolytes) + a sports bar
  • Pancakes with maple syrup and low-fat chocolate milk
  • Milk, cereal, and almonds or trail mix
  • Black bean omelet with cheese, salsa, and avocado and whole grain toast and a cup of fruit salad
  • Stir-fry with lean chicken, fresh veggies, and brown rice

-Macy Focken, Nutrition Intern

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