So you're halfway through your workout when you start losing energy and momentum. You begin to count down the minutes or reps left in your workout. It has become excruciating and nearly impossible to get through because you forgot to eat beforehand. Then when you get home, you gorge on anything, whether it's healthy or not. But the truth is, not knowing what foods are best to eat before and after your workout can hinder your weight loss goals or any workout-based goals. If you want to gain muscle or maintain the weight you have now, you should still balance eating and working out. The best way to do this is to both fuel your body before a workout and refuel it after a workout to ensure that your body has the necessary nutrients to lose fat and help your muscles out.
>> Read more: 7 Post-Workout Mistakes Keeping You From Losing Weight
Foods and snacks to eat before your workout:
- Bananas: Eat a sliced banana that will give you usable fuel to pump up your exercise routine. The potassium will also help with maintaining your muscles and nerve function.
- Oats: This snack is full of fiber for a steady release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream, which allows your body to also have a steady stream of energy during your workout!
- Caffeine: If you drink coffee on a regular basis, you can even include it in your pre-workout snack. It will help keep your energy up as well as boost how much fat your body burns! You can even add a shot of espresso to your smoothie.
- Dried fruit: Running late and need a quick snack before the gym? Grab a handful of dried fruit (about a quarter cup) to keep your energy up.
- Whole grain toast: Much like oats, this snack is packed with fiber to give you that slow-releasing energy.
- Greek yogurt and trail mix: A perfect snack for a long run. The yogurt is easy on your stomach and the nuts will make sure your insulin levels don't drop. Just be sure not to eat too many nuts, as they can make you feel sluggish since they take so long to digest. Click here for some healthy trail mix recipes!
- Whole wheat toast with sliced banana and cinnamon: A great combo of complex and simple carbs. It's super easy to digest and will keep your body going during even the toughest workout!
- A smoothie: A yummy snack for when you're on the go. You can come up with your own build of juice, fruit and veggies for a delicious pre-workout shake (or click here for some delicious recipes). If you want a thicker smoothie, add greek yogurt and granola.
- Oatmeal with fresh fruit: This meal is always a bit thicker than the others, and in a way that helps you. It takes your body longer to digest to ensure that you'll get a steady stream of energy while you exercise.
- Apple wedges with almond butter: Trade your peanut butter for almond butter and get a yummy, nutritious snack. It will keep you full, increase energy levels and ensure that you don't have a sugar crash!
>> Read more: The Whole Story on Whole Grains
Foods and snacks to eat after your workout:
- Eggs: They're filled with protein and have a low calorie count, too! Eggs are the perfect filling food to refuel with after pushing yourself during your workout.
- Quinoa: So many vitamins and nutrients are stuffed into these small seeds! Quinoa also has more fiber and protein than even brown rice! It's definitely an ideal food when you want a quick but filling snack.
- Salmon: The omega-3s in this fish will definitely benefit your muscles after exercising, because omega-3s work as an anti-inflammatory and help to rebuild your muscles as well as increase your performance!
- Blueberries: In need of an antioxidant boost? Grab a handful of this fruity treat. Doctors have even discovered that blueberries can triple your rate of recovery after an extreme workout.
- Sweet potatoes: This vegetable has a little bit of basically every healthy vitamin in it. It has a healthy dose of carbs, vitamins B6, C, D, magnesium, potassium and a variety of nutrients.
- Orange juice: Skip that Gatorade and have a glass of OJ instead! Sports drinks are mainly for during your workout anyways. A glass of orange juice will get you more potassium, an important electrolyte to restore your fluid levels. Or add orange juice to your protein shake!
- Whole-wheat tuna, hummus and spinach sandwich: The hummus works as a great spread and the tuna is low in calories with a good amount of protein and carbs. Then comes the spinach, a powerhouse vegetable! It can curb your diet and boost your complexion while lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
- Grilled chicken and mixed veggies: After a strenuous workout, your body needs to recover all the nutrients it lost. The proteins and carbohydrates in this dish will fill you up and get your body back to tip-top shape.
- Veggie omelet and avocado: Eggs are a great source of protein. Now mix it with avocado to get all those good fats back in your diet. You'll be getting a nice helping of vitamins A, D, E and K too!
- Salmon with a side of sweet potatoes: The anti-inflammatory properties in salmon also help to keep your insulin levels normal while the sweet potatoes restore your glycogen levels. Eat this meal after your workout and you won't have to worry about feeling achy the next day.
>> Read more: 7 Post-Workout, Protein Packed Meals