5 Pre and Post Workout Snacks
Whether you are hitting the gym, a kickboxing class, spin class or a simple jog around the block, what you eat before and after your workout can significantly impact your fitness goals. Although, as a casual exerciser you don’t necessarily need all sorts of fancy shakes and supplements to support your workout, a simple snack of real food is often all you need. By eating the right types of foods, at the right times, you’ll have more energy, be able to workout at a higher intensity and recover faster for your next workout. So here are 5 simple pre and post workout snacks to help you maximise your workout.
5 Pre and Post Workout Snacks
What you eat before your workout can have a big impact on your energy levels and performance. A well-balanced meal two to three hours before your workout can help ensure you are fuelled, however grabbing a small pre-workout snack can help to boost performance as well. Opt for a snack 30-60 minutes before you workout for maximum benefit. Ensure that what you are choosing is something your body is familiar with and easily digested. The last thing you want is cramping while you are in the gym or on the road! The closer you get to your workout, the better a liquid option might be as it is more easily digested than food.
Trail Mix: A simple snack of dried fruit and nuts will help to give the body a little boost of energy before hitting the gym. Nuts help to provide a small source of protein, while dried fruit can provide some quick release energy for a workout. Alternatively, a simple bar like GoMarco is a great option (and a personal favourite), as it is loaded with nuts and dried fruits, making it an easy grab and go option.
Plain Yogurt: A small serving of plain full-fat yogurt contains a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Always opt for plain, unsweetened and organic options, and add a little honey or maple syrup to taste if needed.
Toast with Nut Butter: A slice of sourdough or sprouted grain toast with a tablespoon of nut butter can be a good pre-workout snack. Peanut butter and almond butter are higher protein options, but cashew or sunflower seeds butter would work just fine too.
Smoothie: A smoothie with some fruit, almond milk and protein powder is easily digested to keep you light and fuelled for your workout. Check out my blog post on Mastering Your Morning Smoothie to make sure you get the most out of this blended drink.
Pre-Workout Drink: When you are short on time, or find it difficult to digest food before a workout, using clean pre-workout powder mixed with water (like this) can be very helpful. It’s easily digested, quickly absorbed, and the added caffeine can give you a little boost of energy before your workout.
There are three goals to post-workout nutrition: Refuel, Rebuild and Rehydrate. After a good workout, your body is in a catabolic state; you’ve drained your fuel supplies, you’ve distressed your muscles and you’ve dehydrated yourself, so the body is in need of a little love to say the least. The most important post-workout nutrients are carbohydrates, protein and water. Your body requires protein to aid with muscle synthesis and carbohydrates to replace muscle glycogen (energy). Depending on the type of workout, the ideal ratio for your post-workout snack or meal is a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Consuming good quality carbohydrates post workout help refuel the body, while protein helps to rebuild the muscles. While you don’t need to run home and rush directly to the fridge after a workout, ideally you want to consume a recovery meal or snack within 1 hour of your workout. If you are headed home for breakfast or dinner after your workout, this meal can serve as your recovery meal and a snack is not necessarily needed. However, if you are in a pinch, or won’t be eating for couple of hours after your workout, here are some simple post-workout snacks you can pack in your gym bag.
Protein Shake: A protein shake is a very simple solution because it is easily and quickly digested to provide your muscles with the required protein. Protein shakes are also easy to pack in your bag.
Hard Boiled Egg & Carrots: Hard boiled eggs are an easily transportable source of clean and healthy protein. One hard-boiled egg contains 6 grams of protein, so packing two eggs with some carrot sticks can provide a filling post-workout snack to hold you over until mealtime.
Tuna & Crackers: A small can of tuna with a handful of crackers can be a great post-workout snack. Tuna is a rich source of protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to increase recovery speed and reduce inflammation.
Banana & Almonds: After a light workout, a simple snack of nuts and fruit can serve as very simple and effective snack. Of all nuts, almonds provide the greatest source of protein making them a great post workout snack, and the ease of digestibility of a banana can serve as a quick source of glycogen to restore muscle energy.
Chicken, Rice & Vegetables: If you are able to eat a meal after a workout, a simple dinner of a serving of meat, serving of grains with lots of veggies is a highly effective option.
And finally, don’t forget to consume lots of water post-workout to help rebalance proper hydration and offset the fluids lost during your workout. Water should be your number one choice, however if you are out in the heat for a long duration of time an electrolyte drink can help replenish your electrolyte balance as well.