People are constantly asking me what they should eat before, during (!), and after a workout.
I do think there is some variability regarding what works best for different people.
As a result of that, I’m just going to tell you what I do, and why it works for me.
I generally do not eat before I work out. In the morning, the most I have is coffee with half and half (which has 1g carbs/sugar per 2 tbsp). My typical morning workout is not very intense—I’m getting into a carb-fuel zone on and off, but not to a point where I deplete my glycogen stores (stored carbs in muscles/liver).
After I strength train and/or walk in the morning, I take my supplements and eat a protein-based meal (eggs, usually—and I throw in some raw milk cheese or goat cheese).
After a low-intensity walk or cardio during the day, I just drink water. (I try to do several one-mile walks during the day, and sometimes a long one at night)
After an intense interval workout (like Ugi or Bodyrock style), I drink water and eat a blend of carbs (still not a lot of them) and protein—either food or a powder supplement (I shoot for casein and whey containing foods if it’s convenient, but I don’t worry about it if it’s not). If it’s not near a meal time, I don’t always eat afterwards unless the workout was longer than 30-45 minutes. Note: I’m not a fan of soy protein isolates or whey isolates. Read why here. My top protein supplement list: sprouted brown rice or pea, hemp, whey (least processed).
It’s best not to ingest much fat right after a workout—it blocks/slows protein absorption into the muscles, but I can’t seem to follow this and so far it doesn’t seem to make a difference.
Many people ask me about amino acids—Taking (or eating) branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) after a workout is helpful for reduced recovery time. These specific amino acids are found in high amounts in beef and fish and assist muscles in absorbing protein, so a meat snack after a strength workout may be the best choice—I don’t usually find myself doing that though, except for the occasional can of tuna (no more than once or twice a week—and always the expensive kind packed in spring water without weird stuff in the ingredient list). I don’t take a BCAA supplement, just so you know.
Remember the J Balls I was making before? Those are still a big hit in my life after workouts (sometimes, though, I eat the dough instead of making balls).
Also, after today’s workout, I made the best snack I’ve ever had in my life–not kidding.
I used a measuring cup to mix it in so I would be sure not to eat more than a serving.
Peanut Butter Yogurt/Frosting
1 cup plain greek yogurt (full fat Fage)
1 dropper full of vanilla stevia
5 drops cocoa bean extract
1-2 tbsp peanut flour (I didn’t measure this)
I’m fully planning to make frosting out of this and also eat it straight everyday for the rest of my life. Well, maybe I shouldn’t do that—it has 7g sugar in one cup. So, based on what I ate the rest of the day, this was not a bad choice—but the sugar content makes it a “sometimes” snack for me.
I’m still following my old-fashioned fitness plan (maybe that’s like Laura Ingalls too?). The not-old-fashioned things in the plan include the workouts I’m doing with the interval timer, and the small amounts of weight training. But…the intensity factor is variable and mostly low, and I’m keeping the several-times-a-day routine going on about 5 days a week (usually something like work gets in the way on one or two days).
I feel most awesome when I do something active as soon as I get out of bed in the morning, and then stick to a once-an-hour plan after that.
Other than my new snack, today was uneventful–I worked all day and then had class tonight. My plan is to get very caught up tomorrow and to study yoga on Friday…it’s a yoga teacher training weekend and there’s a test!
What do you have planned for this weekend?
Do you like greek yogurt? Have you had peanut flour?
Any tricks or tips for what you eat before and after workouts? I think if I was more of an athlete rather than an exerciser…I’d be more strategic, but I have the basics covered for what I do.