Stef Williams WeGLOW app - nutrition and recipes

What to Eat Pre and Post Workout

The start of a challenge is a really exciting time, but it can also be tricky as there’s lots of unknowns.

This blog will help you navigate nutrition based around your goals. 

Figuring out what to eat before and after a workout can be difficult. When it comes to pre-workout fuel, what you choose to put in your mouth is very important. If you’re going to put your body through the paces you NEED proper nutrition. And no, I’m not talking about pre workout supplements. I’m talking about real, nutritious meals and snacks. 

And of course what you eat after a workout is equally as important. Remember, refueling after exercise gives your body what it needs to recover from the exertion and helps towards building bigger and stronger muscles.

Therefore, being thoughtful about what you eat before and after exercising will help you maximise the results from all your hard work at the gym. 

So what’s the best pre-workout snack? 

Not eating enough before a workout can make you dizzy, lightheaded and or lethargic. Whilst none of these things may happen to you, skipping food can negatively impact your performance and reduce your muscle gains.

Carbs = energy. When these are consumed we break them down into glucose, it enters our muscle cells, and gives us fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity. Your muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen and dip into these reserves when you’re putting them to work. When it comes to what to eat before a workout, eating carbs before you exercise ensures that you’ll have extra glucose on hand if you need it to replenish those glycogen stores. If you’re strapped for glucose during your workout you’ll likely feel weak and tired. Some recommended carbs before a workout for quick energy include a granola bar, oats, a piece of fruit, smoothie or even one of our high protein Rice Krispie bars, we have lots of options in app. 

Protein = In addition to carbs it’s a good idea to consume a little bit of protein before your workout especially if you are doing strength training. When we do strength-training we create small tears in our muscle fibers. When you rest, your body repairs those micro-tears, building up your muscles bigger and stronger than they were before and we need protein to do it. Go for sources of protein that are easy to digest like nuts, greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs. 

The ideal time to eat is between 30 minutes to three hours before your workout. That way you’re not still digesting when you hit the gym, but you haven’t gone and used up all that energy as of yet. You may have to experiment with this time frame to see what suits your body best. If you’re working out first thing in the morning you may not be able to eat a whole meal before you hit the gym, in these cases a  small snack should suffice.

So what’s the best post-workout meal?

You need to eat after a workout. It’s important to replenish the glycogen that has been depleted during your exercise. Secondly, eating protein after a workout is a priority for speedy muscle recovery, especially after weight training.

Rehydrate ASAP.

Replenishing the fluids you lost while sweating as soon as you can is even more important than eating right away. Don’t stop drinking just because you’ve finished your workout. 

Refuel with carbs and protein. Remember, you’ve used up lots of that glycogen and torn up your muscles. Therefore your post-workout meal should be high in complex carbohydrates that break down slowly and paired with protein for optimal recovery.

Depending on your goal you may need to up your protein intake. How to determine your protein needs:

Divide your weight by 2.2 to get kilograms. Then multiply that number by 0.4 and 0.5 to get a range of recommended protein amounts.

The beauty of food and nutrition is that everyone’s body is different and will have specific needs and preferences. So make sure you take some time to establish your goal and find a healthy balance. 

Head to the ready set prep section for meal prep ideas, the ‘Eat your Greens’ to get a bit more colour in your diet, or ‘Faster than Deliveroo’ for those days you’re in a rush!