Your alarm clock rings, and you hop out of bed, eager to start the day. The first task of the day is your workout routine at the gym. But as you’re getting ready to go, your stomach rumbles. What should you grab to fuel up? Should you even grab anything at all to calm the rumbling, or should you just suck it up and wait until after the workout is finished?
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), your body needs two different types of nutrients in order to be appropriately ready to work out: carbohydrates and protein. Obviously the amount of each you’ll need will vary based on the type of workout you’re getting ready to do. You wouldn’t, say, eat a full traditional breakfast just to walk the dog around the block before work. But you might eat something more filling than just eggs and toast for a full-on, several hour gym session. However, if you’re the type of person to hit the snooze button several times before rushing out to where you have to be, the ODPHP, Mayo Clinic, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics all recommend at minimum a piece of fruit. It gives your body the easily digestible carbs it needs to fuel up.
On the flip side, the ODPHP advises that you avoid foods that are high in fat and high in fiber before working out. These foods can leave you feeling much more full rather than fueled up, and exercising on a heavy-feeling stomach can lead to an upset stomach or cramping.
Post workout can be quite the same routine. Protein is necessary because it helps build and repair your muscles. More carbohydrates are required because you burn a lot of them off when working out. It can be something quick like a smoothie with Greek yogurt or a full-on meal like grilled chicken breast and brown rice.
Common to both pre- and post-workout is the need to hydrate. Our bodies contain a lot of water that is necessary for us to function. A body that is attempting to workout while not properly hydrated will not function at its finest. Imagine how much better an overheated car works after you’ve added water to cool it down. Your body works much the same way. Besides, how well do you think you could exercise while feeling dizzy or having muscle cramps? Drinking after a workout is equally important. Water acts as a lubricant and makes it easier for your joints to move and recover. It also helps transport those post-workout nutrients more effectively to where they need to go.
To make a long story short–protein and carbs help fuel your workout and repair your muscles post workout. Adequate hydration helps your body be at its best.