Workout Fuel – What Foods Best Serve Your Fitness Goals?
What is the best workout fuel? There’s a reason they say muscles are made in the kitchen. What you eat does matter. In fact, ask any bodybuilder or experienced athlete and they’ll tell you that being fit is 90% diet and 10% exercise. That’s because food provides us with the nutrients we need to stay healthy and active, and gives us the energy we need for exercise and other activities. Think of your body like a sports car — a vessel with potential for top performance. If you want it to perform like a Ferrari, the answer is simple: you gotta put in high-quality workout fuel.
Healthy Workout Fuel Makes a Difference
That’s why the food you eat both before and after your workout can affect your success. If you’ve been hitting the gym but haven’t seen the results you want, a simple change in pre or post-workout snack can have a huge effect. Similarly, if you find yourself lethargic during workouts, you may want to make an adjustment in your workout fuel intake. The right bite to eat can give you a much needed boost! So what foods are power-packed and which are better avoided? We’ve listed the best foods to eat to help you fuel correctly.
Best Pre-Workout Snacks
Pre workout foods should not only stave off hunger but should contain nutrients and carbs which will provide much needed energy for your workout. Avoid processed foods and anything with sugar, which only provide a fleeting energy high with an unpleasant crash afterwards.
Bananas – Sometimes called nature’s PowerBar, bananas are jam-packed with goodness. Filled with digestible carbohydrates and tons of potassium, a banana before a workout provides just the right punch to keep nutrient levels high—translating into more energy. Regular consumption of bananas can lead to better digestion, heart health, and weight loss. Delicious, healthy, and cheap, it’s little wonder bananas are among the most popular fruits on earth, especially among athletes! We recommend eating a medium banana about 30 minutes before starting your workout.
Oats – Mm-mm, fiber! The steady stream of carbohydrates released into your bloodstream by fibrous oats will keep your energy level high, while the B vitamins in the oats will help convert other carbohydrates into energy at the same time. It’s a win-win!
Greek Yogurt – Yogurt is great on the stomach and has just enough natural and healthy sugars to provide a quick energy boost and prevent your insulin levels from teetering off during your workout. Since greek yogurt can be rich, a small cup will do the trick. Mix with dried fruits and some nuts for extra protein!
Smoothie or Protein Shake – Time and budget friendly, smoothies and shakes are great ways to quickly slurp up your nutrients. Make sure you go for whey or milk-based proteins, and feel free to throw in other good stuff, such as vegetables or vegetable juices, nuts and seeds, powders, coconut oil, and other natural supplements such as spirulina, cacao powder, came powder, and others.
Nut Butters – Peanut butter and other naturally pressed nut butters bring energy-boosting natural sugars and rib-sticking protein. Slather some onto an apple or a piece of whole wheat toast for a quick, easy, and healthy snack.
Excellent Choices for Your Post-Workout
After a workout, your body is in recovery mode. That means you should feed it a nutrient dense substantial snack or full meal within 30 min to an hour after working out.
Lean Protein – Grilled chicken, fish, or lean red meats will fill you up and provide you with protein to help your muscles grow. Plus, it’ll fill you up without making you feel bloated, and keep you fuller longer, to boot!
Vegetables – You always should get your veggies in. Nutrient-dense vegetables are particularly beneficial for replenishing the body after exercising, and provide antioxidants for your immune system.
Eggs – Eggs, which contain all the good stuff one needs to grow strong and stay healthy, have been lauded as a wholesome, desirable food for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In an egg, you get high quality protein, B2, vitamin D, B6, B12, plus rich sources of minerals like zinc, iron, and copper. Inexpensive and easy to make in hundreds of different ways, stock up on your eggs!
Unless you’re trying to bulk up, we recommend sticking to 1-2 eggs post workout. If it’s protein only you want, toss the yolk and consume only the white of the egg.
Complex Starches – Also known as “complex carbohydrates” (versus “simple carbs” such as sugar) these sound a lot more complicated than they are. Complex starches are rich in fiber, making them both filling and healthy. Examples include leafy, green vegetables, whole grains and foods made from them, beans, lentils and peas, and starchy veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin.
Seek Professional Advice
If you have a definite purpose or goal in mind for your workout, other than just overall well-being, a nutritionist or fitness coach can help you tailor a nutrition regime that will best suit your personal tastes and goals. Their counsel will be well worth the small cost of a consultation.
If you're about to get started on a new exercise routine and need a little advice choosing the best workout fuel for you, stop by any RX Fitness Equipment store in Thousand Oaks, Anaheim Hills, or Mission Viejo or just give us a call. RX Fitness is here to help with your fitness goals, whatever they may be. We work with hundreds of nutritionists, personal trainers, fitness coaches and medical professionals and we're happy to refer you to one or several so you can get your fitness routine off on the right foot. We also carry equipment and accessories of all kinds to fit every goal and budget and make your fitness routine more productive.
Come in and let us help you find exactly what you're looking for. And don't forget to check out Tim's best-selling book, Fitness Equipment – A Shopper's Guide, available at Amazon and other online book sellers as well as in our store.