Exercise is important, but what you eat before & after you exercise is equally important. You want to make sure you eat and drink the right things to allow your body to fuel and recover properly. Water is, of course, the number one refreshment to reach for, but sometimes you want other choices.
The key to good sports nutrition is keep the fat content low and aim for food containing fiber, complex carbohydrates, and protein.
For light exercise you will not need to eat as much before or after exercise as compared to more moderate to intense exercise.
Here are 10 healthy foods that you can start eating today before or after exercise to fuel or replenish your body with.
#1 Kiwi – This little, prickly piece of fruit has many nutrients, particularly potassium and vitamin C. Potassium helps to keep your body’s fluids and minerals balanced, while vitamin C helps to form and repair tissue after it’s been broken down from exercise.
#2 Watermelon – not only is watermelon delicious it has a high water content to help fulfill your fluid requirements both before and after exercise. Research has also shown that it can relieve post-exercise muscle soreness.
#3 Oatmeal – a nice bowl of plain oatmeal is packed with both complex carbs and protein. These two together will keep you energized and fuller longer.
#4 Toasted Whole Wheat Bagel – choosing whole wheat instead of white ensures no loss of nutrients. Whole wheat contains complex carbs giving you the energy required for a demanding workout.
#5 Banana Whole Wheat Pancakes – these pancakes have the potassium from the banana and the carbs from the whole wheat – and they’re delicious, too!
#6 Baked Sweet Potato – this nutrient packed vegetable is helpful for building muscle due to its fiber content. They also contain complex carbs, vitamin C, and more potassium than a banana!
#7 Milk – for those that like milk a tall glass of some will do your body some good. Not only does milk contain calcium and protein to keep your bones strong, it helps promote the loss of body fat.
#8 Steak – a nice juicy, trim steak contains the much needed protein your body uses to rebuild its muscle after a long, hard workout.
#9 Peanut Butter – this protein-fiber-and-omega-fatty-acid-rich food can be used in a variety of ways. Put peanut butter on celery, toast, or eat it right off the spoon. Try to buy natural or organic peanut butter as many non organic varieties contain hydrogenated oils.
#10 Whole Wheat Waffle – there goes that whole wheat again! Place peanut butter and banana slices in between 2 whole wheat waffles to get more bang for your buck!
You will have to play around with the type of food, when you eat them, and the amount. Maybe your high intense workout calls for two bowls of oatmeal two hours before your workout versus the one you used to consume one hour before your workout. Maybe some foods sit better on your stomach before exercise, while some you may only be able to tolerate after your workout (like high fiber foods, for example).
Just remember when picking your foods and portion/serving sizes – these still all count toward your daily caloric intake. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain, you have to adjust your food and exercise accordingly.
After your workout don’t forget to stretch!