Ready to sweat your way through 2018? Not so fast! We learned the best foods to eat before & after the gym to help you fuel up the RIGHT way for your most effective workout!
As it turns out, what you eat right before and directly after a workout, is almost just as important as your workout itself! Chowing down on the right foods helps your body prepare for an intense sweat sesh as well as recover properly. Here’s how you can make the most out of your gym time, in the kitchen, with the foods that will help you build lean muscles the fastest! Trust, these tips will make a HUGE difference in your fitness performance. Click here to see inspirational pics of celebs working out in 2018.
First things first, before you hit the gym, it’s important to remember that carbs are your BFF. “The key is to have a mixed bag of complex and simple [carbs] so that the release of energy during your workout is slow and steady throughout your routine,” Kati Mora, MS, RD, told Fitness magazine. For example, a snack of whole-wheat toast with fruit is perfect — it’s even “super easy” to digest! “Complex carbs will keep your motor humming, while the fruit adds an extra kick of energy,” Kati explained. Smoothies and greek yogurt are also great things to indulge in pre-workout. Greek yogurt is especially helpful if you’re going on a long run.
“It’s easy on your stomach and when paired with trail mix can give you the little rev your body needs,” Kati said. “Just make sure to choose a mix that is mostly nut and dried fruit based with as little fillers as possible.” Here’s how it works, while the healthy sugars from dried fruit give you a much-needed energy boost, the seeds and nuts will keep your insulin levels from dropping in the middle of your workout. Keep your nut and seed intake minimal though, as too many can leave you feeling sluggish and slow since they take a while to digest.
— Life Time (@lifetimefitness) December 5, 2017
Oatmeal with fresh fruit is another snack that’ll help you get through your workout with ease. “It sticks with you throughout your workout by gradually releasing sugar into your bloodstream,” Kati shared. “Adding fruit to your bowl will help increase the fluid content of your pre-workout snack, keeping you hydrated.” Pretty brilliant, right? And speaking of keeping hydrated, water is essential before, after, and even during your sweat sessions as it’s been known to significantly improve performance.
Last but not least, timing of when you eat your pre-workout meal is super important. To maximize the results of your training, it’s beset to eat a complete meal — one containing carbs, protein, and fat — about 2–3 hours before you exercise, according to Health Line. Timing is just as important for post-workout meals. In fact, it’s recommended that you eat a combination of carbs and protein ASAP after exercising. Hello, protein shake!
Speaking to Paul Kriegler, Program Manager of Nutritional Products at Life Time Fitness, we learned that during a workout, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This means that some of the proteins in your muscles are being broken down and damaged. Therefore, after the gym, it’s important to help repair those muscles by eating carbs and protein as soon as possible. “The priorities for optimizing recovery [post-workout] are to rehydrate, repair, and replenish,” our expert explained to us EXCLUSIVELY, adding that high-quality protein helps with the ‘repair’ part.
“At least 20 grams of protein with a complete amino acid profile (3oz meat, poultry, fish, or 3 eggs, or protein powder), or at least 10 grams of essential amino acids, are required to trigger muscle protein synthesis.” In addition, carbs help your body “replenish.” Grilled chicken and mixed vegetables are a great option after any workout, and so is a veggie omelet with avocado.
“You already know eggs are a great source of protein and help aid in muscle recovery and growth. Garnish with a few slices of avocado for fiber and monosaturated fats (the good kind!),” Kati explained. “Similar to 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.”
Salmon and sweet potatoes are also an effective meal, as salmon has properties that help with your joints and reduce inflammation. Meanwhile, sweet potatoes help to restore glycogen levels, which get depleted after a workout. Tuna fish on whole wheat bread is another great option, add spinach and hummus to your sandwich for an added bonus!
So what happens if you don’t eat the proper foods post-workout? Paul explained that not only your recovery could be delayed, but you could end up suffering from “unwanted energy swings or just low overall energy,” which can lead to weight-gain. Yikes! The good news? LifeCafe is located INSIDE Life Time Fitness facilities, making it easier than ever to get the proper nutrients you need both before and after you work out.
“At LifeCafe, they’ve taken the hard work out of eating well. You’ll find only real, wholesome ingredients — free of artificial additives — in our menu items,” Paul said. “Grab any item you want and eat with total confidence. If it’s there, it’s healthy.” The LifeCafe menu consists of smoothies and juices, as well as healthy meals that feature chicken, salmon, vegetables, quinoa, and more. Better yet, stars like Fergie, La La Anthony, and Derek Hough are major fans!
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — do you find these tips helpful? Are you feeling more inspired than ever to hit the gym this year?