Whether you’re into Pilates, yoga, running or love doing some good old cardio in the gym, one thing is for certain – what you eat before and after will determine how effective your preferred form of workout was.
For your pre-workout nutrition, focus on foods that are high in carbs, moderate in protein, and low in fat. Dr Varsha Gorey, Apollo Hospitals, Mumbai, says, “The pre-workout meal must consist of foods that will continuously energise the body in short dozes throughout the workout. Complex carbohydrates are an ideal choice as they are released slowly into the system. They will provide the necessary energy required to push through the workout.” Half an hour before a workout session, consume light meals and foods which contain carbohydrates and some protein. Whole fruits, energy bars, muesli and cornflakes are all complex carbs.
Here are some more options:
* Bananas are a great source of natural sugars, carbohydrates, and potassium. Alka Lohia, nutritionist and dietician, 6 meal, says, “Having one before you start exercises will boost your glycogen stores and increase blood sugar levels. Couple it with a serving of peanut butter, almond butter or any other nut butter that you like. Do not overdo the portion of butter though. It should not be more than 1tbsp.”
* Home-made granola bars with oats, quinoa, rice or nuts. They should also contain natural sugars like honey, raisins or dates. Lohia says, “This will give you sustained energy throughout your workout. You need protein because you’re going to break down muscle and you want that protein to replenish and repair your muscles. You need a good source of carbohydrates to keep your glycogen levels optimum so that you can go through an entire qualitative work out.” They are also perfect as a quick on the go pre-workout food.
* Greek yogurt, berries or any diced fruit and a few tablespoon of granola are a good pre-workout snack before sessions. Lohia says, “They are a good source of lean protein and carbohydrates. This meal can provide amino acids to promote muscle growth and a slow-releasing source of energy.”
Post a workout, your meal must consist of foods that will help the body recover from the wear and tear done to the muscles. Proteins are your best friend at this hour. Proteins that are easily absorbed by the body and that contain essential amino acids are ideal to help the muscles recover from the losses incurred during the workout. Dr Gorey says, “High protein food items promote feelings of satiety. While it might be tempting to reach out for a tasty burger to reward yourself after a hardcore workout, the purpose of burning all those calories is lost in the process. High protein foods are the ideal way to combat intense food cravings after a workout.”
Dr Gorey recommends whey protein that is available in the market in the form of protein powders – this can be mixed to form protein shakes. A new trend among vegans is to have ‘pea protein’ powder. For those who do not believe in supplementary powders, egg whites are a good source of protein.
Here are some more options for post-workout foods:
* Chocolate or cacao milk as chocolate milk contains an ideal carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. Lohia says, “That is crucial for replenishing tired or damaged muscles. It also aids the recovery process after a workout. Moreover it quenches thirst, has vitamins and minerals too. And the electrolytes needs are also met.”
* Egg omelette with a multigrain toast and a little avocado to top it is a delicious and beneficial. “Eggs provide the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth and recovery, while carbohydrates to refuel. Avocado contains healthy fats which help in metabolising the carbs and proteins,” Lohia explains.
* Chicken, vegetables with a little baked potato or sweet potato “This provides the required proteins and carbohydrates to replenish our glycogen stores and is good for muscle recovery,” adds Lohia.
* Chana sattu is another good option. When you are working out, you lose fat but at the same time you tend to lose some muscle too. Rather than always going in for protein powder, go for natural forms of protein. “Sattu contains proteins minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium — all which are essential in tissue repair after a workout. It also has complex carbohydrates which are needed to provide energy,” says Lohia.