Good nutrition and a good workout routine go hand in hand. While the physical activity you do is important, what you fuel your body with before and after your workout will affect how successful it is. Getting all your essential nutrients gives your body the best chance of being able to perform and recover from your workout. On the other hand, poor nutrition makes it hard for you to get the most out of your workouts and leaves you feeling sluggish.
The Impact of Poor Nutrition on Your Workouts
For a beneficial workout, your body needs the right fuel. Without it, your body won’t function optimally during a workout—whether that means not having enough energy during an exercise session or not being able to efficiently replenish energy stores and repair tissue damage afterward.
For example, if you eat more carbohydrates than your body needs or consume unhealthy carbs, you will feel weighed down and tired, making it difficult to get through your workout, and the excess carbs will get stored in fat cells. Also, if you don’t eat enough protein after a workout, your body won’t have the amino acids it needs to repair damaged tissues; this can lead to slower muscle recovery time, increased soreness, and an overall decrease in performance.
Food Gives You Energy
Before each workout, make sure that you’re properly fueling up so you can get the maximum benefit from it. A good rule of thumb when selecting a pre-workout snack is to try to eat something that will provide you with carbohydrates for energy, some protein for muscle building, and a bit of fat for sustained energy. Eating light meals 1-3 hours before a workout will give you enough energy to power through even the toughest of workouts without weighing you down.
Simple carbohydrates such as whole wheat toast, oatmeal, or fruit are all great options; they’re easy to digest and give your body an initial boost of energy. Protein should also be thrown into the mix if you’re doing an intense session; lean proteins such as chicken or fish provide sustained energy throughout a long session without weighing down on your stomach too much. A few examples of pre-workout meals include oatmeal with nuts and berries, egg whites with toast and avocado, or a smoothie made with yogurt, fruit, and nut butter.
Restoring Your Energy After Working Out
After working out, it’s important to replenish lost glycogen stores within two hours post-workout. Glycogen is stored in muscle cells and provides fuel when working out intensely; therefore, eating foods that are rich in healthy carbs such as sweet potatoes will help restore glycogen levels quickly for maximum recovery time between exercises.
It’s also important not to forget about protein; adding lean protein such as eggs or Greek yogurt provides essential amino acids, which help repair tissue damage after a tough session at the gym. Try having some whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa with a lean protein source like grilled chicken, salmon, or tofu.
Eating well before and after you exercise will provide your body with the essential nutrients necessary to power through your workouts and help you recover faster so that you can get back out there in no time!