Nutrition and exercise are not two separate facets of your health, they should be used to complement one another. Understanding how to complement your training with nutrition and knowing what to eat before and after a workout means you can burn maximum fat, perform at your best and recover optimally. 

What To Eat Before a Workout

What you choose to have depends on the type of training you are doing and also needs to be something you are familiar with and are confident that it won’t cause stomach upsets.

This is something that needs to be individual for each person. The main component here is avoiding an upset stomach during your workout. Some people will thrive off a snack like Greek yoghurt or a protein-heavy meal before a workout, but others prefer an empty stomach.

Should you train while fasted?

There is research to suggest that exercising in a fasted state will help you burn more fat. So if you feel okay not eating before your workout, it is probably easiest to train in the morning and focus on your post-workout meal to get your nutrients. However for those who might feel nauseous or lethargic without eating before you workout you want to have a snack at least 30 minutes before your workout or a meal at least 2 hours before.

Best foods before a high-intensity training session

Look for snacks that are high in carbohydrates as this is the predominant fuel when training at a high intensity for a short period of time. Look for options such as ½ banana, 1/3 cup porridge or muesli, piece of toast with peanut butter, ½ cup of smoothie or some sweet potato with almond butter. 

Best foods before a low-intensity training session

Your body can rely more on its fat stores for energy when you train at a lower intensity and for a longer period of time. What you choose to eat here also needs to be something that you know won’t cause a stomach upset but that is high in fats such as a small chia pudding, a handful of nuts or some greek yoghurt. 

What To Eat After A Workout

There is a window of up to two hours, ideally one hour, after exercise that our body will efficiently utilise the nutrients it takes in. Due to this we want to have a full meal post workout as soon as we can but definitely within that 1-2 hour period. If you are unable to do this then a snack will suffice until you can get your next meal in. 

Protein is essential in your post-workout meal

All exercise, particularly strength and endurance exercise, will cause muscle cell breakdown. We want to repair this damage and build more muscle mass which requires amino acids provided by protein. Including a protein source with your post workout meal is important and can include meat, fish, chicken, tempeh, tofu, eggs, legumes, nuts and yoghurt.

Healthy fats & veggies are important post-workout

We also want to ensure some healthy fats and slow releasing carbohydrates are present in this meal to restore energy supplies so opting for things like nuts, oils, avocado, sweet potato and brown rice are good options. Our micro-nutrients are also super important to facilitate post exercise recovery so 2 cups of colourful, non-starchy veggies are also recommended.    

Steph Wearne, Head of Nutrition, 28 By Sam Wood.