One of the biggest questions I get as a personal trainer is exactly what to eat before and after working out.
Looking back at my history of fitness, it wasn’t always so pretty. Many years ago when I was just trying to get big muscles and didn’t care about much else, I would SLAM a Big Mac minutes before I would work out. And then I would wonder why I felt like a ball of junk.
Even though I was majoring in Nutrition at Sacramento State I would still find myself eating like crap not because I didn’t know any better, but because I didn’t want to break away from my old comfortable roots of junk food.
I eventually hit my breaking point a couple years ago when I found myself with a bad back, horrible joints, couldn’t sleep and felt anxiety more often than one should. I took it upon myself to learn the latest and greatest foods that I should be filling my body with to ensure I would live a healthier life.
Before I took it upon myself I would always know exactly what to do with someone in the gym but I wouldn’t know what the HELL tell them to eat outside the gym. Now that I know I want to share it with everyone.
OK enough of my story, before you work out you don’t want to have anything to heavy on your digestive system or else everything in your body will focus on digesting and absorbing that food instead of working your butt off in your workout. I wouldn’t recommend eating a pizza, oatmeal or anything else takes a long time to digest. Go for something lighter such as a piece of fruit or some yogurt 30-60 minutes before your workout.
Also be sure to NOT drink so much water before you’re workout, but instead drink small amounts of water tapering off until your workout. And while you workout you want to make sure you’re continually consuming water to re-hydrate yourself.
If you work out early in the morning then I wouldn’t recommend eating a big breakfast like I usually tell everybody else to do. You don’t want a big meal digesting in your stomach when you’re trying to work out. Instead go for the fruit or yogurt 30 minutes or so before you work out.
After you workout is a little different story. You want to make sure you have a good amount of protein within 30 minutes of finishing your work out. Ideally you would have a meal that also has some good carbohydrates as well as some healthy fats, but if you could only get one thing then get some protein.
Now this protein doesn’t necessarily have to be a protein shake but instead you could have an organic peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Ezekiel bread, grilled chicken breast or a salmon steak.
So there it is, exactly what to eat before and after working out, if I didn’t cover something be sure to leave a comment and let me know!
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.