Know all About your Pre and Post Workout Snacks

Sayali Ramdasi

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pre and post work out snacks

I have observed that people start a gym with full efforts by buying new shoes, gym clothes, napkin, water bottles, and whatnot. But they are confused about eating practice while exercising. Commonly asked question is what to eat before starting exercise? Well, the answer is not that simple as it has various other points to be considered. Let’s understand it.

Eat or not to eat before workout

Ideally fueling the body before any workout is beneficial rather than doing it on empty stomach. Your performance improves after having food. Many times it is believed that for burning the excess fat, the workout should be done on empty stomach. It’s true to some extent but a person gets exhausted quickly if fasting for a long time and hence the work-out duration is shorter.

What to eat?

what to eat?

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Ideally, food should be a combination of carbohydrates and proteins. Glucose from carbs is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen reserves. These reserves are used for high and low intensity of exercise. For carbohydrates, eating simple carbohydrates is a good idea as they get digested fast and provide quick energy.

Examples include

  • A granola bar
  • Whole fruit
  • Oatmeal
  • Dates or figs

In addition to carbs, it’s necessary to consume a little bit of protein before your workout especially if you are doing weight training. When you do strength training exercises, like lifting weights, it can create small tears in muscle fibers. Protein is needed for healing those tears. Bodybuilders need proteins for building up the muscles bigger and stronger. Also Eating protein prior to exercise has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis.

Protein-rich foods to include before a work-out

  • Nuts
  • Yogurt
  • Boiled egg
  • Milk or soy milk

Avoid sprouts or gas-forming foods before exercise which can lead to bloating. Also, remember that not to eat too much before exercise as it will create discomfort.

protein-rich foods to include before a work out

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Many times when you go to a gym, the trainer suggests you take a protein supplement like whey protein or soy protein or BCAA, etc. So people feel that they will get the results only if they consume these supplements. Before starting on any of these products-  think of the goal with which you joined the gym.

For a common person to stay fit, food is the best medicine. But, if you are doing vigorous weight loss or joining a gym for building up the muscles you can take a supplement under supervision. In the case of athletes doing intense weight training for long periods (45 to 90 minutes), they may require a little bit of extra protein. You should consult a  qualified dietician for choosing a suitable supplement for your body type.

Timing of your exercise

timing of your exercise

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Gyming in the Morning

gyming in the morning

A time gap of 30 minutes to 2 hours before a workout is usually suitable for all individuals. According to the timing of exercise i.e. morning or evening, food choice will be different. If your workout timing is in the morning, you probably won’t be able to eat a whole meal before you hit the gym. So a small snack or mini-breakfast should be sufficient. Like a glass of smoothie or milk with oats or dry fruit milkshake or whole fruit or boiled eggs.

Gyming in the Evening

gyming in the evening
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If you are exercising later in the day, it is recommended that having a snack 30 minutes to an hour before your workouts like having an idli or vegetable sandwich or daliya upma or ladoo, etc. If you are working out 2-3 hours after a well-balanced meal then chapatti or rice with veggies or khichdi and salad or paratha with curd are the options. The availability of food sources is also an aspect to be considered according to which you can choose your options.

Hydration should be maintained

hydration should be maintained
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It’s best to get your body hydrated before going to the gym. A simple way to determine your overall hydration status is to check out the color of your urine first thing in the morning. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, light yellow colored urine is a sign of appropriate hydration, while dark-colored urine, indicates a deficit in fluids.

How much Water Should you drink?

how much water should you drink?
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Drink at least 2 cups of water 2 to 3 hours before exercise and 1 cup of water 10 to 20 minutes before working out. While exercising carry your water bottle that you can sip in between. Consider drinking 1 cup of water for every 20-30 minutes of intense physical activity, especially if you are sweating or training in a heated environment.

Can you have Infused Water?

can you have infused water?

The use of infused water or lemon water or adding electoral powder or fresh fruit juice will also additionally provide vital minerals and vitamins. Hydration will minimize the feeling of low at energy levels as also symptoms such as muscle cramps or spasms.

Post workout nutrition is also important

Post workout nutrition is also important
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Eating after a workout is important to replenish the glycogen that has been depleted during your exercise. Secondly, eating protein after a workout is a must for speedy muscle recovery, particularly after weight training. The post-workout meal should be high in complex carbohydrates loaded with healthy protein. Plus, the food contains electrolytes which you lose when you sweat.

When you don’t eat after a workout you can end up fatigued and battling low blood sugar. You’re also inhibiting your body’s repair process. If you routinely skip eating after a workout, it will be harder to reach your fitness goals.

Complex carbohydrates include

  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Nuts
  • Whole wheat bread
complex carbohydrates
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Healthy proteins include

  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Fish
healthy proteins
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Meet a Qualified Sports Nutritionist

Sports nutrition is a new branch to learn. These guidelines are for the common people starting a gym or any kind of exercise to avoid confusion and misguidance. Physical fitness is not only losing weight but staying active. In addition to eating habits, it is very important to do a regular workout with a gradual increase in intensity. In case you are into competitive sports, do not skip meeting a qualified dietician.

So, my take-home message is that every person who starts a gym or does any kind of physical activity should have an idea about eating habits and it’s the timing for staying fit.

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