Fueling up for your workouts is just as important as getting through them. Here are the best pre- and post-workout foods to eat if you want to make the most out of your daily exercise.
Before Your Workout
There’s no rule that you have to chow down before you exercise, especially if your workout is moderate or lasts less than an hour. But if you do want a snack, my favorite pick is a banana. It’s easy to digest and packed with potassium, an electrolyte depleted when you sweat that supports muscle function and helps prevent cramps. For longer, more intense workouts, add a little protein for sustained energy: Pair a banana with a handful of almonds, or eat 6 oz of Greek yogurt with a piece of fruit. Be sure to eat 30 minutes to an hour before exercise so your body has time to digest the food!
Feeling like you need a little extra energy boost? Having caffeinated coffee or tea before your workout can help you push yourself a little harder and longer. Drink 1 cup of coffee or 2 cups of tea at least 30 minutes prior so the caffeine can work its magic.
During Your Workout
Water is the best way to hydrate before, during, and after your workout; it’s important for lubricating joints, regulating body temperature, and energizing you. If you crave a little flavor, skip sugary sports drinks and sip naturally flavored sparkling water or freeze 100% fruit juice in an ice cube tray and add to flat or carbonated H20 to jazz it up. Aim to drink a few cups of water in the hours before your workout and another cup as soon as you’re finished. Don’t forget to sip during your sweat session too.
After Your Workout
The body uses glycogen, an energy source stored in the muscles, to power through exercise. Replenish it afterward with a snack that’s rich in high-quality carbs (think vegetables, fruit, dairy, or whole grains-not chips, pretzels, or crackers with refined flour) and at least 8 grams of protein to help your muscles recover. Two good choices: an apple with 2 Tbsp nut butter, or scrambled eggs made with 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites served with half a grapefruit. Crunched for time? A cup of cow’s milk or a serving of Greek yogurt will also do the trick.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Woman's Day.
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