Your body is your vehicle. You have to fuel it properly, especially when working out. This means that you have to eat the right foods and drink the right fluids, in the right amounts, and at the right times in order to have full energy for your workouts. Don't worry, we'll unpack...
For great workouts, you need to see the big picture. Don't just focus on the workout itself, but also on the pre and post-workout periods.
Today we're going to be talking about the best ways to fuel your workout, so keep reading!
Best foods to fuel your workout
Before your workout
Over 50% of a good workout is about nutrition. As crazy as it seems, it's true. If you don’t fuel your body properly, you won’t have the energy that you need to perform at your best.
Keep in mind that adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise, to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximise exercise performance, and improve recovery time. This will help balance fluid losses as well. You need to make sure that you’re eating the right amount of macronutrients to ensure your body has enough fuel to sustain and enjoy the workout and its following recovery. These macronutrient values are different for everyone, so just check which are yours instead of following anyone else.
Now, another thing to keep in mind is the timing of your meals. Especially if you’re planning on eating before your workout. To maximise the results of your training session, try to eat a full meal containing fat, protein, and carbs, at least 2 to 3 hours before your exercise. If you’re not able to do so, no worries. If you’re eating 45 to 60 minutes before your workout pick foods that are simple to digest, this will help you prevent any stomach discomfort while exercising.
Needless to say that you need to stay hydrated at all times if you want to achieve better performance since your body needs water to function. Good hydration sustains and even enhances performance, while dehydration can do the opposite, which is to decrease your performance.
If you’re doing an intense workout, it’s recommended to consume water and sodium before the exercise to improve your fluid balance. Also, as a post-workout, it’s recommended to drink electrolytes.
After your workout
Refuelling your body after exercise is crucial to enhance performance, optimise recovery, and, of course, see results.
During exercise, your body breaks down its muscle glycogen stores for fuel. Your muscles become partially depleted of glycogen, and some proteins in your muscles may also get broken down or damaged. It’s crucial to replace the depleted glycogen stores, prevent muscle breakdown, and encourage muscle growth after exercise. Post-workout nutrition will also help enhance recovery which will help in the following workouts.
In case you were wondering, timing is important for your post-workout meal as well. After a workout, there’s an anabolic window, which is a period of time after the exercise that leads to the best recovery. Usually, this goes between 45 to 60 minutes post-workout, so make sure you grab a snack or meal packed with the nutrients you need no more than 1 hour after your training session.
The main nutrients that you’ll need are protein. They provide your body with sufficient amino acids to help repair and rebuild the muscle. It will also help to build new muscle. Consuming 20-40 grams of protein will maximise your recovery after a workout.
You will also need carbs to help repair muscle damage.
The best supplements to support your fitness goals
Another great way to fuel your workouts besides getting on top of your nutrition is by taking the right supplements. Depending on your needs, the type of training you practice, your sleep quality, etc. you’ll need different kinds of supplementation. The ones that we recommend the most are:
In case you need a little extra protein, a good protein shake or smoothie is always helpful. Make sure to read the ingredients label and check all of the ingredients. When possible try to go for the one that has less (or none) sugar, artificial flavours, and unnecessary ingredients. Also, try to choose the one that fits your needs and goals. So, for example, if you’re trying to slim down, choose a protein that contains ingredients to support this, such as The Lean Protein - rather than a muscle-building one. You can take it either before or right after your workout.
The best snack for long-lasting energy with added MCTs for your workout. Funky Fat Food's chocolate contains quality ingredients that are all organic certified. MCTs (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) are medium-length chains of fatty acids that, unlike long chains, go straight to the liver and are absorbed faster, improving mental clarity, memory and performance. Just like protein powder, you can take it before or after your workout
Creatine is a substance found naturally in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. So by taking a creatine supplement you will be helping your muscles become stronger and probably gain muscle mass. You can take it during the day, there’s no need to take it right after the workout.
Recovery supplements are as important as the others. They help support the recovery process, reduce inflammation, and regulate hormone activity. Make sure that the ones you chose are made with clean ingredients.
Rest and recovery
Last but certainly not least, rest. In order to fuel your workouts, you need to rest. By rest, we mean that you should at least take 1 or 2 rest days per week. You can make them active rest days if you want to, this is totally up to you, but keep in mind that it's important to be gentle with your body. Besides the rest days, it’s important to have rest when sleeping. Having a good quality of sleep and sleeping between 7 or 8 hours per night will benefit your recovery process.
Usually, the rest is underrated or fully ignored. But, if your body is tired, no matter how well you’re doing with your nutrition, you won’t be able to give the best of yourself when exercising. When you’re well rested your muscles have the time to actually recover, repair, and deflate and that's what will give you the power for your next workout.