How to Properly refuel before, during, and after a workout
If you are going to set aside time to work out, you need to also take the time to properly fuel your body. By eating and hydrating accordingly, your body is adequately prepared to tackle the workout ahead. If you skip this key step, your body is weakened and put at risk of injury. Properly fueling your body doesn’t automatically mean that you have to meal plan your whole day, but it does mean you need to be thoughtful about the quantity and quality of what you consume.
If our body is a machine, food is our fuel, but not all food fuels our body to the best of its ability. It’s important to keep in mind when you are picking out what to eat, that your body needs carbohydrates to fuel a workout, protein to repair, and fluids to rehydrate.
The right food and fluids at the right time not only impacts the effectiveness and length of your workout, but how quickly and well your body recovers afterward:
Without a doubt, you need to properly hydrate before working out and aim to eat about one to four hours before exercising. To improve your overall workout and performance, make sure to drink plenty of water and eat healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are easily digested. If you are taking in 2,000 calories a day, aim to consume between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates before you exercise, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is important to avoid saturated fats before working out since they slow your digestion – causing your body to exert more energy and oxygen into processing your food instead of your workout.
Whether you work out for 10 minutes or two hours – your workout relies on hydration. During your workout, taking breaks to get a few sips of water is necessary. However, depending on the length of your workout and the temperature conditions, water might not be enough and sports drinks might be needed to replenish your body quickly with fluids, carbs and sodium.
Similar to your pre-workout preparation, after a workout you need to replenish your body with fluid and healthy carbohydrates, as well as protein. By consuming protein soon after you work out, you are giving your body the nourishment it needs to repair and strengthen your muscles. Protein can come from a glass of chocolate milk or a protein shake to bring nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. After your workout, you should replenish your body within 30 minutes after exercising. Without it, you may feel fatigued and blood sugar levels may plummet later in the day. Further, by not refueling, you can put your body at risk of injury.