Physical activity is, of course, the cornerstone of fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Still, without proper nutrition, your body may struggle to recover and, as a result, leave you with lackluster workouts. As most experts will attest, food consumption after exercising is equally important as the fuel you provide your body before diving into an excruciating weight lifting routine or run. While the fitness world, especially online, encompasses several different trains of thought on the most effective methods to achieve and maintain a healthy body figure, it can be broken down to this: eat the right foods at the right time.

Jolene Cherry, an experienced personal instructor who puts her clients’ well-being at the forefront of her business practices, strives to debunk fitness myths and provide people with the proper tools and education to maximize their efforts. In this article, Ms. Cherry reviews food that can boost workout routines by helping you stay energized, build muscle while maintaining an ideal weight, and accelerate recovery.

Please note, the following insights are based on Jolene Cherry’s professional experience as a personal trainer and yoga instructor and should be treated as guidelines as opposed to strict rules. Before implementing significant changes to your diet and exercise program, consult your primary care provider or a certified nutritionist to ensure your food habits are appropriate for your age, background, and overall health.

Pre-Workout

During exercise, your body consumes its glycogen stores for fuel. If you don’t replenish these levels beforehand, your body will lack the necessary ammunition needed to safely workout. Furthermore, insufficient nutrition before an exercise can cause dizziness, nausea, lethargy, which all inhibit performance and gains.

Our bodies turn carbs into energy by breaking them down into glucose, which in turn is absorbed by our muscle cells. Therefore, eating carbs 30 minutes to an hour before your workout ensures you have an adequate amount of fuel (aka glucose) to keep your body moving. Inexpensive pre-workout meals that provide optimal carbs include:

  • Granola bar
  • Salmon with brown rice
  • Greek yogurt with granola and berries
  • Rice cakes with almond butter
  • Oatmeal with peanut butter
  • Whole-wheat toast with a banana
  • Sweet potato with broccoli

Hydration

Proper hydration throughout your workout is critical to keeping your internal engine firing on all cylinders. Although not mentioned above, you should monitor your water intake before exercising to minimize dehydration. The color of your urine can be an accurate indicator of hydration levels: dark-colored urine (similar to apple juice) implies a deficit in H20. During intense physical activity, drink approximately one cup of water every 15 to 30 minutes. If you sweat profusely, you’ll likely need to increase that amount. Remember, hydration is essential to clear-headedness and avoiding muscle cramps.

Post-Workout

After your workout, your body needs to restock its glycogen stores and regrow muscle proteins. When we exercise, such as lifting weights, we create tears in our muscle fibers that need to be repaired. Our body achieves this with protein, and as a result, our muscles become more robust and more prominent.

To maximize glycogen synthesis, try to have your post-work meal adhere to a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. The following meals fall into this category and can help speed up your recovery process:

  • Tuna with whole wheat bread
  • Blackberries and quinoa
  • Tofu and steamed or sauteed vegetables
  • Chicken salad
  • Protein shake with almond milk and fruit
  • Omelet stuffed with brown rice or vegetables and topped with avocado
  • Grilled chicken with Brussel sprouts

About Jolene Cherry: Jolene Cherry believes that striking a balance in life is the key to wellbeing. She aims to help her clients reach that balance through physical activity, mindfulness, and healthy nutrition. While it’s important to exercise your body, you must also exercise your mind to find harmony, and be careful about what you eat to fuel both your body and your mind – this is Jolene’s guiding principle in everything she does.