Your body needs nutrition continually, but especially when you exercise. No matter what your workout activities are, you will need a good balance of protein and carbs for fuel before exercise and to restore your body afterward.
So as not to be redundant, we won’t keep saying organic before every item. But we highly recommend that anytime possible you choose organic foods. Your body needs healthy fuels, not chemicals and GMOs.
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- 1 What Foods are Good to Eat Before a Workout?
- 1.1 What Foods are Good for Afterwards?
What Foods are Good to Eat Before a Workout?
A calorie is a calorie, so whether you eat before or not, you will still burn the same amount. But if you don’t eat before your workout, you will lose muscle instead of fat.
If you are hungry, your body goes into a survival mode, and will pull the protein from your muscle. You then begin to lose muscle mass, which slows your metabolism and actually makes it harder for you to lose weight. So don’t worry about the calories you’re getting before your exercise, worry about getting the right fuel to burn during your exercise.
Since you want to build muscle and burn fat when you exercise, you need to grab the right snack about 30-45 minutes before you start. There are no “meal rules” to get in the way. An egg can be good at 5 p.m. or at 6 a.m. Just know that your body needs good fuel before your activity, no matter what time that may be.
A good combination of protein and carbs are important before a workout. A mix of simple and complex carbs will help keep up your energy level throughout your routine.
It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Drink of good quality water before your workout to avoid dehydration. Beware of bottled water containing fluoride and other toxic chemicals.
Dress up this staple with diced almonds, hemp seeds, and sliced bananas. Oats are full of fiber which means that carbs will be released into your bloodstream slowly. This will keep your energy level constant throughout your exercise routine. Bananas are not only a great source of carbs, they also have a lot of potassium. Since your body doesn’t store potassium very well, you need this boost before a workout. The almonds and hemp seeds provide all the protein you will need.
A good source of protein, top it with berries or other fruit. Adding hemp seeds or chia seeds will provide even more protein. If you don’t do dairy, try coconut milk yogurt. It has all the protein and none of the negatives associated with dairy.
3) Apples with Almond Butter
An apple with a couple of tablespoons of almond butter is a quick and easy snack, providing both carbs and protein. Fruit is high in carbohydrates which breaks down quickly and used for energy during your workout. The almond butter will keep your insulin levels from dropping before you’ve finished.
4) Almond Butter
Slather a couple of tablespoons of almond butter on a sprouted grain muffin. Sprouted grains are a favorite of ours because when the grain sprouts, it breaks down the proteins and carbs, making it low glycemic and easier to digest. Since the grain is sprouted, it is a living food, and therefore provides more nutrients to your body.
Eggs are a quality source of protein anytime. Cook them any way you like and eat with a sprouted wheat muffin or slice of sprouted wheat bread.
6) Veggie Omelet
Whip up 2-3 eggs and fold in some fresh spinach, avocado, and tomato. Avocados help your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from the veggies, such as vitamins A and K. Eat with a side of sprouted grain bread for a good protein/carb combo.
7) Salmon Salad
Mix some wild caught canned salmon* with some organic mayonnaise, chopped onion, and a chopped hard-boiled egg. Put this on a toasted sprouted grain muffin for a tasty and different snack.
*Preferably from an Atlantic source (beware that most Atlantic salmon is farm raised). Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant spill makes Pacific seafood a bad choice, though Alaska routinely tests their Salmon, and it may still be acceptable.
8 oz. of Coconut milk blended with bananas, hemp seeds or your favorite protein powder, and some frozen organic berries is a quick and easy treat. If you have a sweet tooth, add a small amount of stevia.
Try 2-3 frozen waffles, topped with almond butter and some all fruit jelly.
10) Pasta – Hot or Cold
Quinoa, black bean, or lentil pasta with some canned New England clams, diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, and peas is a yummy way to start a workout. Toss it with a little olive oil, and add some chopped onion and garlic for added flavor.
What Foods are Good for Afterwards?
Now that you have completed your workout, you need to restore your body and get some energy back into your system. Try to eat within 30 minutes to give you the nutrients your body needs to rebuild.
When you exercise, your body uses glycogen stored in your muscles. As with before exercise, you need a combination of protein and carbs to refuel. Nutrient dense foods are the key to your body’s recovery.
Always drink plenty of good quality water after your workout.
1) Chocolate Shake
Crazes come and go, and the latest one is chocolate milk after a workout. We’ve improved that by using coconut milk, which has been shown to aid in weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improve heart health, and adding a banana to replenish the potassium loss. With both carbs, protein, and healthy oils, this will help your muscles recover and replace many of the nutrients you used during your exercise.
Blend 8 oz. of coconut milk with cocoa powder, teaspoon stevia, hemp seeds, and a banana. Add ice if desired.
2) Banana Sandwich
Slice a banana, then spread a couple of tablespoons of almond butter on a slice of sprouted grain bread.
Sprouted grain cereal with hemp seeds, bananas, almond milk, and a bit of stevia is great any time of day.
4) Raw Cheese and Fruit
Pasteurized cheese is pretty much devoid of any nutrients, so we recommend raw cheese. Even though we stated in the beginning we would not say organic before every item, it does need to be said here. Organic, grass-fed cheese is the only dairy cheese worth eating. If you can’t find it, substitute an almond or other non-dairy, non-soy cheese. Couple the cheese with some sliced apple or a banana for a salty-sweet taste.
5) Muffin with Smoked Salmon
Toast a sprouted grain muffin and top with some wild caught smoked salmon for a lean source of protein. Salmon has the added benefit of bioactive peptides, which are small protein molecules that help reduce inflammation. Note: The same radiation caution from above applies to smoked salmon as well. There is at least one wild caught option from Maine. While we are not aware of any organic, grass-fed cream cheese on the market, adding a small spoon of pasteurized organic cream cheese makes this very yummy.
6) Egg Muffin
Not only a great source of protein, eggs also help repair and grow muscle. Lightly poach 2 eggs, and serve each on half of a toasted sprouted grain muffin.
7) Scrambled Eggs
Scramble 3 eggs with some fresh spinach, tomatoes, avocado, and onion. Add a banana or a bowl of berries to complete the snack.
8) Hummus Muffin
Spread a couple of tablespoons of any flavor hummus on a sprouted grain muffin. Unless you make your own hummus, be sure to read the ingredients as many commercially available brands of hummus contain sodium benzoate, which is a carcinogen. Trader Joe’s is one brand we like that contains NO sodium benzoate (as of the time of this posting).
9) Avocado Sandwich
Avocados are great for muscle repair and are have B vitamins to help your metabolism. Spread some sprouted grain bread with hummus (see above), which is a great alternative to mayonnaise. Add some sliced avocado, and wah-lah, a great anytime sandwich.
10) Sweet Potato with Quinoa
Cut a sweet potato into quarters and steam until soft. Let them cool slightly, peel and chop into bite size chunks. Mix with some cooked quinoa for protein, a dash of cinnamon, a dash of stevia, and a splash of almond milk for an unusually tasty combo. Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate that also help to restore glycogen levels that get depleted during your workout.
Conclusion: Eating a snack or small meal of protein and carbs is important both before and after a workout. Your body needs fuel to operate, and fuel to recharge. So don’t shortchange yourself by skipping quality food either time. The snacks we’ve listed are quick, easy, and nutritious whole food. Eat up!