What to eat before and after a morning workout

Every nutritionist will tell you that exercising on empty stomach is not a good idea. The more intense and extended your workout is, the more fuel your body needs. No matter what kind of sport you do, make sure to eat any small snack at least 20 to 30 minutes before your workout, which leaves time for digestion. If you have a big meal, let it be at least 2 hours pre-workout. And don’t forget to eat enough protein throughout the day.

What to eat if you do:

1. Light exercise (walk or easy yoga class)

Pre-workout: If you eat carbs (like whole grains with lots of fiber) as fuel, they can make you gassy and bloated, and you’ll feel discomfort during your workout. Instead, take a little bit of some protein before your training session in order to take the edge off of hunger and prevent muscle breakdown. That can be a hard boiled egg, a Greek yogurt, or half of a protein bar.
Post-workout: If your workout lasts less than 1 hour and not really draining, you don’t need to eat afterwards.


2. Long, intense exercise (workouts lasting 60-90 minutes)

Pre-workout: For long, intense exercise you need to eat about 30-40 grams of carbs. This amount will fuel your muscles and energize you, but won’t give you heaviness in the stomach. A little bit of healthy fats and about 10g protein will be good. But too many good fats can cause GI upset, so you need to find the balance. Great choice would be a couple of grainy slices of bread with almond or peanut butter or fruit-milk smoothie with banana.
Post-workout: Doing this kind of workout you’ll definitely need recovery meals within 20-30 minutes of your training session. Eat some protein and carbs for muscle recovery in ratio 3-4 grams of carbs for every 1 gram of protein. Your choice: a shake with whey protein, milk, and fresh fruit.

3. Short, high-intensity exercise (spin class, HIIT training)

Pre-workout: If you eat too much before this short duration exercise with high intensity, you may feel sick. And there are enough carbs stored in your muscles to last you beyond 30 minutes of your spin. But if you want to lift your energy and blood sugar quickly, eat 15 grams of carbs mixed with protein. Avoid the fats, they pull blood to your GIT, it means away from the muscles and the cardiovascular system. Your choice: 4-6 whole-grain crackers with thin slice of cheese or fresh fruit and string cheese.
Post-workout: General rule is to eat carbs and proteins in ratio 2:1.


4. Strength training

Pre-workout: Workout with weights requires a lot of energy, so you should eat about 15 to 30 grams of carbs plus 20 grams of protein beforehand, which will give you the necessary energy boost without adding a big calorie load. Your choice: sandwich with 3 ounces sliced turkey on whole grain bread, plus tomato slice or spinach leaves, or a power bar.
Post-workout: You’ll need 1:1 ratio of carbs to protein. When you eat carbs immediately post-workout, it helps with muscle recovery. This way you start the process of replenishing your body’s carbohydrate stores. And amino acids from protein start that repair process in the muscles. Your choice: about ½ cup of cottage cheese with peaches.

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