Optimising your workout: The right foods before and after exercise

Optimising your workout: The right foods before and after exercise

Whether you're hitting the gym, going for a run, or engaging in any form of physical activity, fuelling your body with the right foods is crucial for optimal performance and recovery. What you eat before and after exercise can significantly impact your energy levels, endurance, and muscle recovery. Let's explore the ideal foods to consume pre- and post-workout to ensure you get the most out of your fitness routine.

Fuelling the body: Foods to eat before exercise

  1. Complex carbohydrates
    Before your workout, focus on consuming complex carbohydrates that provide a steady release of energy. Choose foods like whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice or sweet potatoes. These carbohydrates are rich in fibre, ensuring a sustained energy supply throughout your exercise session.
  1. Protein
    Including a moderate amount of protein in your pre-workout meal can aid in muscle preservation and repair. Choose lean protein sources such as chicken, tofu, Greek yogurt, or eggs. Protein helps prevent muscle breakdown during exercise, especially if your workout involves resistance or strength training.
  1. Healthy fats
    While fat takes longer to digest, incorporating a small amount of healthy fats into your pre-workout snack can help provide a longer-lasting energy source. Consider adding a handful of nuts, avocado, or a drizzle of olive oil to your pre-exercise meal.
  1. Water, water, water
    Don't forget the importance of staying hydrated. Water is essential for maintaining bodily functions where dehydration can lead to fatigue and reduced exercise performance. Drink water consistently throughout the day and especially before your workout.
  1. Timing
    Aim to eat your pre-workout meal 2-3 hours before exercising to allow for adequate digestion. If your workout is closer to mealtime, opt for a smaller snack 30-60 minutes beforehand. Experiment with timing to find what works best for your body and routine.
 Sample of a pre-workout meal
  • Grilled chicken breast with quinoa and roasted vegetables
  • Whole grain toast with almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with berries

 Replenishing and repairing: Foods to eat after exercise

  1. Protein-rich foods
    Post-exercise, your body needs protein to repair and build muscles. Include a protein source like lean meats, fish, beans, or plant-based protein powder in your post-workout meal or snack. This helps kickstart the muscle recovery process.
  1. Carbohydrates
    Replenishing glycogen stores depleted during exercise is crucial. Consuming carbohydrates post-workout helps restore energy levels. Choose easily digestible carbohydrates such as fruit or whole grains for quicker absorption.
  1. Hydration
    Just like before exercise, staying hydrated after your workout is vital. Rehydrate with water or a carefully selected, sugar-free sports drink that includes electrolytes. Sweating during exercise leads to electrolyte loss, and replenishing these minerals is essential for proper muscle function.
  1. Antioxidant-rich foods
    Exercise generates free radicals in the body so consuming foods rich in antioxidants helps combat oxidative stress. Include colourful fruits and vegetables like berries, spinach, or kale in your post-workout meal as these foods are naturally rich in health promoting antioxidants.
  1. Timing
    The post-workout nutrition window is often referred to as the "golden hour". Aim to consume a balanced meal or snack within 30 minutes to an hour after exercise to maximise nutrient absorption and recovery.
 Sample of a post-workout meal
  • Grilled salmon with quinoa and steamed broccoli
  • Protein smoothie with banana, spinach and protein powder
  • Whole grain wrap with turkey, veggies and hummus

 Keeping muscles healthy

Healthy muscles require a range of nutrients, one of the most important of which is magnesium. To support muscle health and healthy muscle contraction function, consider a magnesium option from the Herbs of Gold Magnesium Range which includes Herbs of Gold Magnesium Forte, Herbs of Gold Magnesium Chewable, Herbs of Gold Magnesium Muscle Cream, or, for the little ones, Herbs of Gold Children’s Magnesium Care.  

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