The effectiveness of your workout depends heavily on what you eat—especially when it comes to what you eat just before and just after you exercise. If you do not eat enough before your workout, you will not have the energy to achieve the burn you are after. Alternatively, splurging on excess calories after a workout can be detrimental to any progress you’ve just made at the gym. Here’s a quick guide to finding a balance with the right foods to fuel up and recover from your workouts.
Carbo-loading is a good way to get the energy you need for a great workout, but you’ll want to focus on complex carbohydrates that act as long-lasting fuel. Some easy snacks to eat just before you exercise are: whole grain toast with nut butter, Greek yogurt and trail mix (with minimal candy fillers), or granola and a banana. For a real quick-fix, whip up a fruit smoothie with nut or soy milk and leafy greens for balanced nutrition that will sustain you through even the toughest workout.
Protein is essential after physical activity, because it helps repair and build muscle tissue. Lean grilled chicken breast, canned tuna, or eggs are all ideal choices, even better when served with some fresh vegetables. For non-meat eaters, foods like lentil soup, chickpeas, or chia seed pudding are all protein-packed options that will nourish your muscles.
Even if you are not planning a workout on a given day, you can help your body burn fat more efficiently with foods like whole oats, almonds, avocados, and apples. These snacks should be staples in your everyday diet if you are seeking more noticeable results in the gym.