(WellnessNova.com) - We all know that your diet has a major impact on weight and overall health. Some foods even promote weight loss. But the timing of when you eat specific foods can impact your weight loss too.
So as you work to shed those extra pounds, get the most bang for your buck by eating certain foods before and after your workout.
Why Eat Certain Foods Before a Workout?
Your pre-workout meal is important because it can help you make the most of each exercise session. If you take time out of your busy schedule to head to the gym, then you want to burn as many calories as possible, right? Eating the rights foods before a workout can help you achieve this goal.
If you don’t eat before a workout, you could find yourself ravenously hungry by the time you’re finished, resulting in unhealthy binging.
Eat the wrong foods before a workout and you could end up with a stomach ache, cramps, or that awful heavy, “sloshing” feeling – you know the one! What’s more, if you lack the proper fuel for your exercise session, you may be left feeling sluggish and unmotivated. Going through the motions isn’t enough; you need to exercise at the right intensity in order to burn the maximum amount of calories.
How much does intensity matter? Well, consider this: a 150-pound person burns an average of 280 calories per hour at a fast walk or slow jog. But if you up the intensity to a moderate run, you’ll burn about 590 calories an hour.
So to make the most of each and every exercise session, it’s essential for you to eat a pre-workout meal that’s balanced with a good spread of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. A few good pre-workout foods include:
• Nuts – They’re a healthy source of fats and they keep blood sugar levels very stable over several hours. A good pick is almonds, macadamia nuts or pistachios.
• Eggs – There’s a reason that professional athletes and body builders eat lots of eggs! But don’t toss out the yolk because it’s packed with nutrients, like vitamin D. According to studies, vitamin D can actually help promote weight loss!
Avoid foods that are high in fiber or high in fat, as it takes your body longer to digest these foods. This can also result in stomach cramps during your exercise session.
Be sure to eat a meal at least three hours before you hit the gym, so your stomach will be empty, preventing a situation where you feel that uncomfortable “sloshing” sensation. This also gives your body sufficient time to absorb calories and other nutrients, which can then be diverted to your muscles.
If you’re headed to the gym first thing in the morning, then you may not have time to eat and then wait a few hours. In this case, you can opt for protein and some carbs, like a hard-boiled egg, a toasted bagel, and low-fat cottage cheese.
What Foods Should You Eat After a Workout?
Your post-workout diet should be packed with foods that promote muscle repair and supply your body with vital nutrients. In the minutes and hours after your exercise session, your body goes into repair mode, mending the microscopic tears in muscle fibers. This process fuels your muscle growth, which is key if you’re focused on getting and staying healthy.
After you leave the gym, you should focus on foods that are rich in carbs, protein, and fiber. Choose foods that help replenish your energy and your glycogen stores, so you’re not left feeling sluggish.
With these points in mind, let’s look at a few good foods that you can eat after your workout:
• Dark Leafy Greens – Munch on a salad or smoothie with dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach, to infuse your body with vital enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. And there’s no fat, which is always a bonus!
• Salmon – Salmon is a great source of protein and it’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which protect your body’s cell membranes.
• Whey protein – This is another favorite of body builders and athletes, but it’s a top pick for good reason: whey protein helps to promote tissue repair and protein synthesis, which in turn, drives muscle formation. The more muscle you have, the more effectively your body will burn fat, even while you’re resting. So if you’re opting for a post-workout smoothie, include a bit of whey protein powder.
Other ideas for your post-workout meal include low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, low-fat Greek yogurt, and fruits like apples.
Don’t Forget the Water!
Water is perhaps the most important thing that you can consume before and after your exercise routine. If you’re focused on shedding poundage, then water offers the best option for hydration, as sports drinks contain lots of calories and sugar.
In the three to four hours before you hit the gym, experts say that the average person should drink around 20 ounces of water. In the half-hour leading up to your exercise session, drink an additional 8 ounces.
Post-workout, drink an additional 8 ounces of water (though if you were exercising in the heat, you may need a bit more.) When rehydrating, listen to your body. If you’re still thirsty, continue drinking until that thirst is quenched.