6 Best Meals to Eat Pre- and Post-Workout

Fuel up, then replenish & repair...

So, you’ve got your workout routine dialed in to an exact science. Now all that's left is to get your nutrition on lock!

Food is a factor that can be easily overlooked when you're working on your physique, but what you put into your body is just as important as what you do with it. In other words: Treat your body like a temple, and you will be a god (or at least feel like one).

In order to power through your workouts with plenty of fuel in the tank, then convert your efforts into results afterward - you'll need to bookend your workouts with some solid nutrition. And sometimes a protein shake just won't cut it! 

So, how exactly can you maximize your workouts via what you eat? We know getting it right can be more difficult and complicated than it seems, especially with all the conflicting information out there - not to mention companies trying to sell you meal plans. Thankfully, knowing what to eat doesn’t necessarily require any special or constricting diet: You just need to eat the right things at the right time.

Power up your gains with 6 of the best meals you can eat pre- and post-workout, and get ready to maximize your potential:

Pre-Workout Fuel

You might’ve heard the term ‘carbo-loading’ somewhere along the way in your fitness journey, and for good reason.

Simply put, carbohydrates are your main energy source - the fuel that keeps you going. Like a car engine, the more ground you'll cover, the more carbs you need to stay running (or lifting, or whatever it may be). 

Healthy sources of carbs include whole grains, fruit, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds; and when they're consumed in the right amounts before you work out, can fuel your burn for the better.

Try these 3 pre-workout meals that will bolster your strength, endurance and energy from the first set to your final rep:

6. Greek Yogurt with Granola & Berries

Send your muscles some instant energy with fast-digesting carbs, backed up with protein-packed dairy for enduring power release. 

5. Oatmeal or Quinoa with Low-Fat Milk & Fruit

Low-GI oats and high-protein quinoa sustain your energy throughout without the sugar spike and crash.

4. PB & Banana Sandwich on Wheat Bread

Avoid cramps during your workout with potassium-loaded bananas, and prolong your energy stores with protein-packed peanuts and complex carb bread. 

Don't forget: You should give your stomach some time to digest before exercising, allowing for at least an hour, and up to four hours before starting your workout. If you do plan on exercising within an hour of eating, we suggest keeping it light, like a banana or protein shake (we’re looking at you, morning people!)

Post-Workout Nourishment

You’ve sweated it out at the gym and are rarin’ for some good grub to refuel your energy and rebuild your muscles.

Protein is the name of the game in the post-workout department, essential for muscle recovery and warding off the dreaded soreness, tightness and cramping.

PRO TIP: For those looking to lean up or even lose weight, watch out for protein shakes and sports drinks that tout boosting electrolytes. While they can be good for getting some fuel in a pinch (and definitely better than going without), they tend to be high-calorie for what you’re getting nutrition-wise.

Healthy alternatives to these include lean protein like fish, tofu, beans, legumes, avocados, and dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale.

Nourish your body's post-workout processes, speed up recovery and replenish your energy with these 3 filling meals after your grind:

3. Salmon and Sweet Potato Bowl

Jumpstart your muscle recovery with this meal rich in protein, fiber and Omega 3s to repair torn muscle fibers and ward off oxidative damage. 

2. Chicken & Veg Stir-Fry with Brown Rice

Replace muscle glycogen levels and refuel your body with protein, minerals and essential nutrients that stave off inflammation and soreness.

1. Turkey, Cheese & Avocado Wholegrain Wrap

Fuel up your muscle growth with B vitamins, good fats and casein that helps your muscles continue repairing while you sleep!

Go on, Dig in!  On the contrary to your pre-workout meal, you don’t need to buffer your post-workout meal at all. In fact, the sooner you can get your hands on some food after working out, the better! Within the hour is best, but you should definitely eat at least by a few hours after so you're not running on empty and further depleting your energy stores.

Knowing what foods to bookend your workouts with not only gives you the strength to bring your best effort, but levels up your results and recovery process afterward.  

In summary, a general rule of thumb is as follows: Carbs before to fuel you up, and protein after to build those muscles. And that’s a wrap!

Thanks for reading, stay strong warrior.

Maggie Johnson | MME Wellness Contributor

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