Many people in the modern training community put perfection over priority. The plethora of products and theories on training, nutrition, recovery and other areas, get some athletes to get caught up in the act of perfecting every second of their training life. All of it can make you feel overwhelmed. One particular subject that concerns everyone in this community is the pre-workout and post-workout nutrition.
These nutrition choices can greatly influence the quality of your workout and your ability to recover and adapt. So, the answer to the question “which is more important”, the answer is – both.
Good pre-workout choices help you feel energized and focused for your workout. Poor choices leave you feeling sluggish, bloated, or hazy.
Now, post-workout nutrition might be a slightly greater priority, because it sets the stage for everything that has to happen between today’s workout and your next training session.
Before: Whole Wheat Toast with Sliced Banana and Cinnamon
We all know that carbs are your gym BFF. The important thing is to mix complex and simple ones so that the release of energy during your workout is slow and steady throughout your routine. That’s why whole-wheat toast with fruit is an excellent choice. It gives you both types of carbs with the bonus of being super easy to digest. Plus, bananas are perfect in increasing potassium levels, which drop when you sweat a lot. Cinnamon has been linked to stabilizing blood sugar and improving brain function.
After: Grilled Chicken and Mixed Vegetables
When your body is in recovery mode, it needs a nutrient dense dish. Chicken contains lean protein and carbohydrates that will fill you up without feeling overly bloated. Add some veggies in olive oil to keep your ticker in tip top shape.
Before: Greek Yogurt and Trail Mix
If you are preparing for a long run, have some yogurt first, because it is easy on your stomach and when paired with trail mix can give you the little rev your body needs. But, make sure to have a mix that is mostly nut and dried fruit based with as little fillers as possible. Dried fruit contains healthy sugar that can provide that quick energy boost, while the seeds and the nuts will keep insulin levels from dropping mid-workout. Keep in mind that seeds and nuts are high in fat, so they take longer to digest. If you have too many, you could start feeling sluggish and slow as you sweat.
After: Veggie Omelet with Avocado
You already know that eggs are one of the best protein source and help muscle recovery and growth. Garnish your omelet with a few slices of avocado for fiber and monosaturated fats (the good kind!). Kinda like olive oil, avocados can help your body better absorb fat-soluble nutrients that your veggies have like vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are stocked with antioxidants, the best boost for your body, inside and out.
Smoothies are the best snack on the go. For a foolproof formula, use your favorite sliced fruit, a cup of Greek yogurt and some granola for a thicker consistency.
After: Salmon with Sweet Potato
We already know that salmon has protein perks, but it also has bioactive peptides, small protein molecules that play a role in inflammation reduction, helping to regulate insulin levels and give you joint support. Sweet potatoes pack in those complex carbs and help to restore glycogen levels, which are depleted after a workout.
Before: Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit
Oatmeal sticks with you throughout your workout by gradually releasing sugar into your bloodstream. Fresh fruit will help increase the fluid content of your pre-workout snack, keeping you hydrated.
After: Whole Wheat Tuna Fish, Hummus and Spinach Sandwich
This sandwich is great if you prefer working out at lunchtime. Tuna is low in calories, but high in protein and carbs. Humus is better than mayo or mustard, and is also high in fiber. Spinach handles everything from curbing your appetite to boosting your complexion and lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
Before: Apple Wedges with Almond Butter
If you crave something sweet, like candy, better go for apples. You will avoid a sugar crash mid-lunge while stocking up on vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You can spread a tablespoon of almond butter on your slices. It squashes hunger and amps energy levels up.
After: Chocolate Milk
According to recent research, chocolate milk is the latest craze in post-workout snacks, even over water and sports drinks. Why? Because it has everything you need in one glass: carbs and protein for muscle recovery, water content to replace the fluids lost as sweat and calcium, sodium and sugar — all ingredients that help you recover faster, retain water and regain energy.