Friday, June 14, 2013
What to Eat BEFORE and AFTER a WORKOUT
People always ask me what they should eat before and after a workout. As I have previously posted, you theoretically will burn more fat in a fasted state. However, your workout may not be as vigorous if you haven’t eaten compared to when you’re well-fueled. Therefore, you may burn fewer calories in the end if you don't eat before. Also, if you aren’t used to working out hard on an empty stomach, you could faint due to low blood sugar, which is not a good thing. I always recommend people eat at least a little something with carbohydrate before any workout. It is always important to have enough glucose to have your muscles run on during a workout, so eating a healthy meal about 2 hours before is ideal (e.g: whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruit), or at least a banana if you are workout out first thing in the morning.
It is most important to eat AFTER a workout to replenish your muscle glycogen stores so that they can be functioning optimally at your next workout. However, what you eat really depends on how hard your workout was. Keep in mind that calorie expenditure varies greatly depending on the age, gender, and size of a person, and obviously, how hard you worked. A large man may very well burn 800 calories in a 1-hr spin class at a very vigorous effort, while a small woman might burn around 300 at the same effort. So, don’t trust what you hear about how many calories you burn in an exercise class or what the machines say you burned… some of these numbers may overestimate as much as 1 ½ - 2x the amount of calories you actually burned.
My Recommendation: After a very hard cardio and resistance exercise, you need to eat carbohydrates and protein in about a 3:1 ratio. So, I recommend yogurt or cottage cheese and a piece of fruit (blend it into a smoothie if you want!). Personally, my post-workout favorite is oat bran made with milk, cinnamon, fruit, and chia or hemp seeds. However, if weight loss is your goal, make sure you aren’t eating more calories than you burned after a workout, unless it is a full meal.