What to eat before and after a workout

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Tapping “good workout foods!?!” into Google is a mistake. Admit it. Instead of coming away with a headful of smart, simple and on-point nutritional advice, you’re left scratching your head, wondering where the hell you can buy ashwagandha root at 11pm on a Sunday.

That’s why we’re here. We’ve got some gold dust: simple, fuss-free workout foods that will work for almost everyone. They’re broken down into what you should eat before exercising, and what you should eat after.

Before

Whether you’re hitting the gym, the road or the pitch you’re going to use energy, so it makes sense to chow down on foods which are going to help you power through your workout. Your pre-exercise BFFs are complex and simple carbohydrates – complex to keep your motor humming, simple for that extra energy boost.

If you’re exercising at breakfast:

For a perfect pre-workout breakfast, a slice or two of wholewheat toast and mashed banana will give you the complex and simple carbs your body needs. It’s easy to digest, and easy to make – ideal if you’re looking to hit the gym when doors open. Up the flavour and energy stakes by adding a thin spread of peanut butter before topping with banana.

If you’re exercising at lunchtime:

If you’re a fan of the lunchtime workout, prep a smoothie at home in the morning and take it to work with you. Simply throw some of your fave fruit into a blender, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt and some granola or oats for a thicker consistency to make a great pre-workout snack.

smoothie

If you’re exercising around dinner:

Curb that 4pm slump with a simple snack of apple wedges dipped in almond butter. The natural sugar in the apple gives you a much-needed energy boost whilst avoiding a mid-squat sugar crash. Nut butters are perfect for providing a slow-release high-energy boost to your body. It’s a perfect balance.

After

Make sure you seek out a protein hit after your workout to give your tired muscles a chance to mend. Protein is the perfect post-exercise food group as it’s made of amino acids. Amino acids are our muscles building blocks, so by eating protein, you’re eating exactly what you need to recover. Protein is found in meat, seafood and eggs, and also in milk, pulses and soy.

If you’re exercising at breakfast:

Protein for breakfast doesn’t mean a steak the size of your head – that would be crazy. Instead a simple omelette packed with your favourite veggies makes for a wicked post-workout meal. You’re getting the protein you need from the eggs, and vitamins and a few carbs from the veggies. If you’re looking to keep the calories in check, try making the omelette with 4 egg whites and only one egg yolk.

omelette

If you’re exercising at lunchtime:

Working out at lunchtime will undoubtedly leave you feeling ravenous and craving carbs. A tuna, hummus and spinach sandwich using wholewheat bread will not only satisfy your carby desires but is also a great way of getting the post-workout protein in. The combination of low-calorie, high-protein tuna, with blood pressure and inflammation-lowering spinach makes this a great post-sweat sandwich.

If you’re exercising around dinner:

Fish is your friend here. On top of being a great source of protein, salmon also contains bioactive peptides (small protein molecules) that help to reduce inflammation, regulate insulin levels and give you joint support. Try oven-cooking the salmon with some sweet potatoes to get those complex carbs in too, helping to restore glycogen levels which drop after a workout.

 

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