Any fitness fanatic will know that diet plays an enormous role in the changes they see in their physique. But with so much conflicting information about what to eat before and after your local gym session, it’s difficult to know whether our eating habits are helping or hindering our fitness goals.
We’ve all heard advice like: ‘eat complex and simple carbs’, ‘NEVER eat carbs’, ‘have a banana before your workout’, ‘but wait, fruit is loaded with sugar!’ With that in mind, our personal trainers wanted to spend some time simplifying fitness nutrition.
Before Your Workout
Whether or not to eat before your workout entirely depends on how your body reacts. For some people, working out on an empty stomach can lead to dizziness and fatigue, hence giving them an ineffective gym session. For other people, nausea will ensue if they try to eat a meal before jumping up and down on the treadmill.
The solution that works for the majority? Eat something between 30 minutes and 3 hours before your workout. This way, you won’t still be digesting food while you’re working out, and your body will have enough energy to sustain an hour-long gym sesh.
If you’re a morning person and you don’t have time to eat so far in advance of your workout, or you just generally dislike exercising with food in your stomach, opt for a small nutrient-rich snack like a bliss ball or a green smoothie. Your body will thank you for the energy boost.
After Your Workout
Easily the most important part of your fitness diet is your post-workout meal. After you’ve completed that last rep of your workout session, you need to focus on refuelling your body and helping your muscles repair. And you’ll want to eat something as soon as possible. Some studies show that your body’s ability to repair its muscle decreases by 50% if you wait more than 2 hours to eat after exercising.
So what should you be eating? According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, protein-based meals with a small amount of carbohydrates are best for your body. Doing this will help you speed up recovery, retain lean muscle, keep your metabolism turning and aid in weight loss.
Examples of healthy protein-based meals with a side of carbs include;
- A protein shake made of protein powder and a small banana
- Two eggs on a slice of wholegrain toast
- A tuna salad with brown rice
If you’re ever in doubt about whether your diet is on the right track, the best rule of thumb is to stay balanced. If you’re incorporating a decent amount of proteins, unprocessed carbohydrates and healthy fats into your diet, without too much unnatural sugar, your body will be happy. Have a chat to one of the personal trainers at Planet Fitness if you need any further advice.