What's the best way to plan meals based on workouts?
by Starstamp

What's the best way to plan meals based on workouts?


Joanne Perez, MS, RDN, LD

There is no one set way to plan for your workouts. What you eat depends on what type of exercise you are doing, the intensity, the duration and your fitness level. But, there are some general guidelines for pre- and post work meals and foods.


Ideally, you should try and eat 1-3 hours before your workout. When you eat immediately before your workout, you cause your muscles to compete with your stomach trying to digest your food. The result is decreased performance and possible GI discomfort. Carbohydrates are essential for optimal performance, but you also need some protein to make sure your muscles have the right amino acids available for your workout. Your pre-work meal/snack should be a little lower in fat and fiber as too much of either could lead to GI problems.

Some good pre-work suggestions:

Peanut butter and banana sandwich
Oatmeal with fruit and nuts
Apple with nut butter

Whatever you choose, make sure it is made up of foods that your body tolerates well.

Post Workout

When you workout, you deplete the glycogen (stored energy) in your muscles. It is important to replenish these and get the repairing of your muscles started right away. You should eat something, that consist of both carbohydrate and protein, within 15-20 minutes of finishing your workout. In addition, you want to plan to have a well-balanced, variety filled meal within 3-4 hours of ending your workout.

Some suggestions for immediately following a workout include:

Low-fat chocolate milk
1/2 trukey sandwich on whole grain bread
Greek yogurt with fruit

Don't be fooled into thinking you need to load up on protein after your workout. Protein does help your muscles recover, but you only need an extra 10-20 grams at the most.

And, don't forget to hydrate both before, during and after your workout. Water is the best way to stay hydrated. If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes in extremely hot and humid conditions, you may benefit from a sport's drink.

Remember, your shouldn't be working out so you can eat more. Many people often use a workout as an excuse to eat an extra piece of cake or slice of pizza. It's important to fuel your body for optimal performance with a well-balanced diet that includes lean proteins, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy. You should workout to make you feel good and help keep your body healthy and it should always be fun and something you want to do, not something you have to do.

If you are training for an endurance event or even a fitness competition, be sure to consult with a registered dietitian who can help make sure that you are meeting your caloric and nutrient needs to ensure to best possible outcome.

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