It’s been said that staying fit and healthy comes down to around 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. Whilst the exact numbers are up for debate, the fact remains that your dietary choices are an important part of the equation.
The food you eat before and after your workouts will determine how much energy you have available, and how quickly you can recover afterwards, so it makes sense to try to get it right. But what does that involve exactly?
Here are a few simple ideas for pre and post-workout meals that will help you maximise your efforts.
Consumed half an hour to an hour before your workout
The humble banana is one of the best pre-workout snacks. It contains a good dose of potassium which helps to maintain nerve and muscle function throughout your workout. It’s also a great source of easily digestible carbohydrates that will allow you to perform at your best.
2. Apple with Almond Butter
It may seem like a strange combination, but there is method behind the madness. Apples are another great source of carbohydrates that are easily digestible. The almond butter provides a helping of important healthy fats and protein that can become an important fuel source during longer workouts. If you find the flavour of almond butter too distinct, you could opt for creamy cashew butter, which provides similar benefits but has a subtler flavour.
3. Greek Yoghurt and Seasonal Berries
When it comes to a pre-workout snack, greek yoghurt usually provides more protein than regular yoghurt, due to the process it goes through to create that thicker consistency. But this doesn’t mean all greek yoghurts contain the same amount of protein, so make sure you choose one that has a higher amount per 100g. Berries also provide a quick sugar rush for you to maximise your energy during a workout. If you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative, there are plenty of vegan and lactose-free options on the market, and some of these will have just as much protein as their dairy counterparts.
Post Workout Nutrition
Consumed half an hour to an hour after your workout
1. Green Smoothie
The green smoothie may be the king of post-workout recovery meals. Simply blend together some bananas with oats, leafy greens, protein powder, plant milk, nuts and seeds, and you’re all set. The smoothie comes in a predigested state, placing less strain on your digestive system. It’s also a quick way to replenish those depleted glycogen stores and initiate protein synthesis to repair and build muscles.
2. Mexican Rice and Beans
Another simple, healthy meal that will help to speed up your recovery times. Simply cook up some brown rice, red kidney beans and vegetables, and combine them with a little guacamole, salad and hot sauce. It provides a good blend of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and plant based protein, as well as a helping of health promoting vitamins and minerals.
3. Vegetable Omelette
This recipe could also be consumed as a pre-workout lunch, but a few hours before a workout rather than half hour before, as it takes a little longer to digest than fruit. Eggs provide plenty of protein for your muscles to recover, but mix it up with some green vegetables, or some potassium-rich tomatoes and avocadoes, to boost your vitamin intake and replenish your electrolytes.
Don’t forget the rest of the time…
Your performance in the gym is not just affected by the food you eat prior and after your workout – what you do the rest of the time counts too.
Ensure you’re eating a wide variety of plant foods throughout the day, getting enough sleep and controlling your stress levels. It’s only when we tend to all pieces of the health and fitness picture that we are able to reach our potential.