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We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but the situation is far trickier for those going for early morning workouts. They may be looking forward to shedding some extra pounds, tone their midsection, burn flab off their thighs and butts, or to make leaner muscles. This cause underlines the massive importance of pre- and post-workout meals one should opt for.
It is crucial to understand that everybody’s nutritional requirements vary depending on their fitness levels and goals. We are offering this article to serve as a guide to determine the right balance of carbs, protein, and fats that one may take before and after one’s workouts to satisfy hunger, get energy, develop endurance, and build leaner muscles.
You could have similar fitness goals as the person working out next to you but your body’s nutritional requirements could be vastly different. Your metabolic rate, health vitals, and eating and sleeping patterns could also be vastly different. All these factors account for making different food choices for pre-and post-workout scenarios.
Also read: Myths about Pre and Post-Workout Foods
Here’s how you can get started with some help from our virtual fitness experts:
Keep it light and simple. Having a carbohydrate-rich snack a few hours before a cardio workout can help you sprint, run downhill, and perform any type of cardio exercise for much longer than on an empty stomach. You may apply a thin layer of peanut butter on toast and you’re good to go.
Other healthy alternatives for peanut butter include avocado or one sliced hard-boiled egg for their hearty omega 3-goodness.
Your post-workout snack depends on your level of physical activity. If you run a few miles per week, we recommend a glass of delicious banana shake made with one banana and a cup of low-fat milk. It’s super easy and extremely effective in re-hydrating the body and providing extra proteins for muscle repair.
Other alternatives include low-fat chocolate milk, a whey protein shake, or a banana and peanut butter shake if you’re looking for that added kick.
While most people like to associate carbohydrate intake with cardio, you need carbs for weight training too. If the glycogen reserves in your muscles are low, your fitness routine may lack that satisfaction too. It is thus important to stay tanked with nutrition before going to the gym.
An ideal way to get started would be to have one-fourth cup of Greek yogurt in the morning. It may also be taken along with a half cup of whole-grain cereal and blueberries each to have the daily dose of complex carbs for a power-packed workout.
Tip: You can use granola, peanut butter, or sliced bananas as toppings for your yogurt parfait.
After a strenuous workout session, you’ll want something that is rich in protein and is satiating. To make a black bean omelet, you’ll need four egg whites, ¼ cup of boiled or canned beans, and an ounce of low-fat cheese (optional). This will not only replenish your energy reserves but will provide you with a quick surge of protein to stimulate muscle synthesis.
A glass of green smoothie made with 4 cups of spinach, 1 banana, half a cup of berries and one cup of almond milk with ice is just what you need to fuel your body throughout your entire yoga workout. This smoothie consists of healthy carbs that help your muscles and brain function optimally without dipping into your glycogen reserves.
Having the smoothie chilled will help you start your workout in a refreshed and reinvigorated state. Not a fan of green? Try a banana-berry smoothie instead, it is one of the best pre-workout meals out there!
Fruits such as oranges and strawberries are rich in water and potassium, and eating them will rehydrate you after a sweat session. The carbs from the fruit will replenish energy reserves and the slow-digesting protein in them will help in faster muscle repair.
If you’ve been doing Pilates for a while, you’re probably aware of the burning reps done several times during a session. For a workout as vigorous, you need a lot of energy which you can get from a carb-rich pre-workout meal, hence, you should consider having oats every day.
Just half a cup of cooked oatmeal along with one or two whole eggs can give you the energy and protein you need to survive and enjoy a grueling HIIT or Pilates workout. If you’re vegan, scrambled tofu is a great alternative for eggs.
Wondering what you may what to eat after a workout? Start with some tuna salad using tuna and any vegetables of your choice and add a couple of spoonfuls of it to three whole-grain crackers. This snack is not only filling and delicious but is also rich in protein, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates.
Alternatives for tuna are tofu, soy cheese, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, and avocado.
You improve your blood chemistry, boost your insulin sensitivity, increase your metabolism and energy levels, sleep better, work out efficiently, and much more. However, after having grains as a staple in your diet for so many years, going grain-free may be easier said than done.
Here are some tips that can help you ease into a restrictive diet easily:
Packaged products often have an allergen labeling, so you’ll be able to determine whether the item has gluten. In most cases, specific grains will be listed, so keep your eyes open for any type of grain, especially, wheat, barley, rye, spelt oats, Kamut, etc.
And have eggs instead. Eggs are incredibly versatile. From a basic sunny side up to a classic frittata, which can contain anything from green leafy vegetables and mushrooms to chicken bits, you can have a filling and heart-healthy breakfast by just being a little creative with eggs.
As odd as it may sound, cauliflower makes a fantastic addition to any meal and it can even replace your steamed rice. You can have grated cauliflower with rice as a side dish or curry of your choice or add it to your stir-fries and curries, making them super healthy and satiating.
Iceberg lettuce makes a fabulous wrap. It’s crunchy and tastes delicious with patties and kebabs. Just make a healthy version of your regular sandwich or burger filling and wrap lettuce around it. If you’re using patties, you may have to increase your serving amount to make the meal more filling as lettuce doesn’t have the same amount of mass as a bun or slice of bread.
Life can be tough without pizza. So instead of having your regular white bread crust, you can try putting all your pizza toppings on an egg omelet. It’s similar to a cheese omelet but with meat, onions, and other elements you top your pizzas with. You can even replace the omelet with ground beef.
Did you know? Consulting a wellness expert online today can help you get closer to a personalized diet plan as per your energy requirements and current lifestyle.
If you’re used to having sandwiches as quick and healthy lunch options, you may try switching to soups and salads. Soups can be made in advance and heated in a microwave and salads are easy to make by default. Who doesn’t love the sound of chopping crunchy greens anyway?
If you have a serious sweet tooth, avoiding cakes and pies may sound like torture. However, there are so many healthier dessert options you are yet to try, such as bananas with peanut butter and dark chocolate chips or strawberries dipped in melted dark chocolate. Yogurt with honey, nuts, and berries tastes fantastic too.
Use ingredients such as banana, berries, strawberries, honey, agave, and cinnamon to naturally sweeten and enhance the flavor of your sweet treats.
There is no better online portal to know about one’s health and fitness habits and the smarter ways to improve them. We welcome you to consult our virtual fitness and wellness experts to get a personalized diet plan for yourself through online sessions.
You can get in touch with one or more health experts as and when you’d feel like, even when you are sitting on a couch or working out in a gym. There would be no waiting period or taking appointments to talk to them, and you can get online in just a few seconds from your smartphone.