When you’re doing an intense workout, you’re asking a lot from your body in terms of the energy that it has to give you. No matter your fitness goals, it’s vital to make sure that you eat the right food before, during, and after exercising to ensure that you’re fueled well.
Exercise is vital for health, and so is good nutrition, and the two need to go together. When one or the other goes, your body won’t be able to reach its fitness potential. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional athlete or just a normal person; if you work out, it’s essential to have an appropriate diet before, during, and after exercise.
There’s more than one type of workout, and that’s going to affect what nutrition your body needs. Carbohydrates provide energy, protein helps recovery, and water keeps you hydrated. Each one has a specific function, and it’s important to balance it with what you’re asking from your body. For a more effective workout, here’s how to choose what to eat before, during, and after working out.
How to eat for your HIIT and cardio workout
Cardiovascular workouts, especially high-intensity interval training, take a whole lot of energy, and if it’s energy you need, then you’re going to need carbs.
When eating carbohydrates found in rice, bread, fruits, and vegetables, among others, the body breaks down the carbs into glucose. Then, it’s converted into glycogen. This glycogen is reserved in the liver and muscles, and your body converts them back to glucose again when it needs energy.
- Before your HIIT and cardio workout – When talking about eating before HIIT and cardio, it means 2-3 hours before working out. For this, make a meal with complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and of course, vegetables. These types of food give you slow-release energy, which you need as you go through your workout. You can try meals like mixed porridge with some berries, a wholewheat pasta with vegetable sauce, and peanuts.
- After your HIIT and cardio workout – After your workout, make sure to re-hydrate well. Of course, since you’ve consumed a lot of glucose, you might feel an immediate need to eat sweets, but avoid doing so until your next meal. For your next meal, eat high-quality protein like chicken and fish, add complex carbohydrates, and vegetables for the antioxidants.
If you are unaware of HIIT or High Intensity Interval training, you are really missing out on these best workouts.
How to eat for your strength training
Strength or muscle training is all about putting your muscles to work and then allowing them to repair and rebuild with proper rest and nutrition. In strength training, it’s protein that you need.
- Before your muscle training – If you want your body muscles to endure the whole workout, you’ll want to provide it with all the carbohydrates it needs. Of course, you also need a good amount of protein to help your muscles recover. Since strength training requires less energy compared to cardio, you can eat before muscle training sooner than you would do for cardio and HIIT. If your schedule is tight, you can try a quick low-sugar energy bar before your strength training.
- After your muscle training – To start the recovery phase quickly, eat protein with some carbs after training. A whey protein shake is a good choice because it’s quick to make and quick to eat. For your next meal, choose a meal with a good balance of protein and carbs with vegetables.
Some good choices are grilled chicken with roasted vegetables and rice, tuna salad sandwich on whole-grain bread, and salmon with sweet potato.
How to eat for your endurance sport
Eating for cardio, HIIT, and strength training already requires a lot of work and discipline, but it would require even more from you if you participate in endurance sports like marathons, triathlons, and cycling events. Due to the grueling nature of endurance sports, you need to pay more attention to your nutrition.
- Before your endurance sport workout – Remember, your body stores glycogen from carbs to use for glucose for body energy. Since endurance sports demand a lot of energy, it’s vital to load up on carbs before endurance sports, and we’re not talking about a few hours; you need to load up on carbs in the days leading up to the event.
You might feel full, but you’ll regret not eating carbs when you’re barely halfway in the event without any energy left to go on. To help store carbs, consider adding a banana to your breakfast, an extra sandwich for snacks, and basically, eat bigger meals.
On the morning of the event, though, make sure to eat a small, balanced meal only because you already have your glycogen stores full.
- During your endurance sport workout – It’s a long physical activity, which means you’re going to have to give your body more energy from food from time to time. Make sure to have an energy bar or a banana ready to eat for an easy and quick energy boost. Also, don’t forget to re-hydrate.
- After your endurance sport workout – Since endurance takes a lot from the body, you need to load on carbs again and enjoy a nice, balanced meal. You can also forgive yourself for getting an extra dessert.
The importance of having the right nutrition
Exercise takes a lot from the body, and before, during, and after your workout, you need to make sure that you’re giving back nutrition to your body, as well. Of course, it’s easier with Carnegie’s best personal trainer.
To be a pro, you need to learn form the pros and you really need to try out our homemade protein shake!