Unsure of what to consume pre and post workout? There have been many articles and some debate, however, science and experience indicate there are some common ingredients that should be included pre and post workout for the best results.
What are these magical ingredients and when should I consume them? In an effort of absolute simplicity I’ve broken it down into pre-workout consumption and post-workout consumption.
Hydration is fundamental to maintaining good blood pressure, to increasing the effects of your workout, reducing the risk of dehydration, and reducing the strain on your kidneys and liver. There are a myriad of sports drinks, loaded with sugars, electrolytes, and other ingredients. Yet, despite all the advancements of the modern day, water remains your best source of hydration. Bored of water, add some lemon or cucumber to it. Studies show flavored water increases people’s hydration levels (i.e. if it tastes better, you’re more likely to drink more)
How much water should I drink and how long before my workout? If you know you’re going to do intense exercise the following day, start hydrating the previous night and the morning of. A full glass of water within an hour of bed and two glasses of water when you awake is best. It’s better to drink water closer to room temperature. Ice cold water is more likely to make you cramp. Two to three cups approximately three hours before a workout is ideal. Try to drink small mouthfuls of water throughout your workout routine. Drinking too much just before and while exercising can cause cramps, flush electrolytes, and cause it to slosh about in your stomach.
What foods should I eat within two hours of working out? I don’t suggest eating a large meal within three hours of a heavier workout. Immediately before a workout eating a banana can help quench your hunger, without taxing your digestive system. Banana not enough? Try it with a little honey for the quick energy of the sugars. Dark honey is higher in antioxidants and can help purge some of the toxins released during cardiovascular exercise. As for the meal you eat within three hours of a workout, make it higher in protein and fibers (example: oatmeal breaks down slowly, high in fiber), drinking enough water several minutes before and after your meal to aids in digestion.
Just as it is important to drink water before and during a workout, it is equally important to drink some water after a workout. The water will help deliver nutrients to your muscles faster. Immediately after a workout a simple and small snack is advisable, especially if you are worried about “crashing” or are trying to gain muscle. Something as simple as an apple (or another banana) with peanut butter can give you the simple sugars and protein your body craves. This puts something in your stomach until your heart rate settles. Try not to eat a heavy meal immediately after exercising, the body needs time to recover and return to homeostasis. Wait an hour, then eat a meal. This meal should have plenty of vegetables and some protein. Don’t eat until you’re overly full!
PRE – POST WORKOUT SUMMARY
- Hydrate the night prior and morning of a workout day
- Eat a banana 15 min prior, 15 min after a workout, try with dark honey
- Eat an apple with peanut butter after a workout
- Eat fruit or juice fruits/vegetables, 2-3 hrs pre/post workout
There you have it, a few simple steps that have the potential to increase your performance, boost your health, and reduce your likelihood of getting sick from a strenuous workout. Good luck!