Nutrition is extremely important when it comes to physical activity and sometimes even knowing what to eat and when to eat can be difficult. No one wants a stitch half way through a run but we don’t want to be starving either. Let’s chat a little bit about what to snack on before and after a workout.
Not eating something before a workout may just suit some people but for others it can leave them feeling dizzy, nauseated and tired. It can also affect our performance as our muscles need that energy to work to their best ability. Carbohydrates provide energy in our bodies and our muscles store carbohydrate in the form of glycogen for times when we need it. Eating carbohydrates before training can allow us to use this energy in the form of glucose to fuel our workout. It also saves the glycogen stored in our muscles for other times we may need it. It’s a good idea to eat a bit of protein before training too as it allows repair and building of muscle cells which are damaged when we workout. Make sure to drink water!! Water is essential for any type of training. Sip on it before and during your workout for optimal performance.
Examples of pre-workout carb and protein snacks:
- Some fruit and unsalted mixed nuts or seeds
- A slice of wholegrain toast and peanut butter
- Low-sugar oatmeal bar/granola bar
- Dried fruit and Greek yoghurt
- Chicken/turkey/pitta on wholegrain crackers
- Scrambled/boiled eggs on wholegrain toast
- Apple/pear and nut butter
Refuelling after a workout is extremely important as your muscles must be repaired in order to grow and your glycogen stored must be replenished. Recommendations state it is best to eat something within 30 minutes of working out to aid the recovery process. Some people cannot stomach a full meal straight after a workout and that’s fine but eating a snack within those 30 minutes can help speed up the recovery. Ensure to also drink plenty of water post workout. The snacks mentioned above will work perfectly post-workout. Just make sure you have a protein source (nuts, seeds, pulses, meat, fish, eggs, Greek yoghurt) plus some carbs (wholegrain bread, crackers, oats, fruit etc) and you’ll be flying!
Following these guidelines will help you reach your fitness goals and keep your body working correctly. Remember to listen to your body and fuel it correctly and REST! We all need to recover and rest up at some stage and everyone is different. Figure out what works best for you.
Emma Brennan is a qualified Nutritionist and is a registered member of the Association for Nutrition (AFN). Emma attained her qualification in Human Nutrition from Ulster University, Coleraine. Emma has a passion for all things nutrition and health related and her mission is to educate the public about their health and wellbeing through her blogs, videos and nutrition tips online and through the Good4U Nutrition Service provided to schools, sports clubs and businesses.