If you want to achieve good and long-lasting results when you workout you should pay attention to more than just your exercise routine and frequency. The food you consume also affects how you feel during and after a workout, and plays a major role at keeping your efforts for longer, and making your exercise more effective. I have noticed that my energy level during my workout always varies depending on the food I have previously consumed. For example, eating food that is rich in fat for a few days makes me tired much faster and I notice how I am being challenged by an exercise that I would normally perform with a moderate ease and without getting out of breath. Any change in diet affects directly your performance levels. So I did a bit of research and together with my own food experience compiled a list of foods you should consume before, during and after a workout to get the best result of your efforts.
Before a workout
It is important to eat something up to an hour or two before you exercise (except if you are practicing yoga, which is always done best at an empty stomach). Eating before workouts prevents low blood sugar which can make you easily fatigued and lightheaded. Eat some quality carbs, lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and fluids. You want quality and nutritious food, that will satiate you but won’t make you full. Those are my preferred foods before a workout:
- Banana, maca and spinach smoothie. Bananas offer a great dose of potassium, which maintain nerve and muscle function.
- Green smoothie (like Green Essentials) for some added fiber and nutrients
- A medjool date with a teaspoon of almond butter – good carbs for instant energy and healthy fats and protein from the almond butter
- Quinoa with vegetables
- Vegetable omelet with avocado
- Oatmeal with fresh fruit
- Nuts and trial mixes with dried fruits
- I also drink plenty of water and / or cold-pressed juices. Beetroot is good for helping with sustained stamina and energy, so I add that in my juice.
During a workout
It is important to stay hydrated while you exercise, as dehydration may cause cramps, thirst and dizziness. When you are dehydrated your heart also needs to work harder to support your body. Experts recommend drinking at least 300-400ml of water one or two hours before your workout, 200-250ml prior to working out, and 200ml for every 15 minutes during your workout. I have to admit that I do not drink much during a workout, but I do right after. If you are training for endurance or doing a strong cardio workout, than drinking something rich in electrolytes is a good idea as you lose a lot of them when sweating. Coconut water is great for this, and I personally love our Spicy Lemonade, especially when training in a hot room and sweating.
After a workout
Right after a workout I make myself a power smoothie. This is actually the reason I created the Cacao Delight smoothie, as it is my favourite post-workout drink, and it tastes so delicious. I also love to add hemp protein powder (or any vegan protein powder) to my post-workout smoothie. The food I consume after a workout normally has one or more of the following:
- Cacao Delight Smoothie with potassium-rich banana to prevent cramps, raw cacao that offers magnesium, hemps seeds and almond milk for added protein
- complex carbs (quinoa, brown rice pasta, millet, oats, sweet potatoes)
- protein-rich foods such as eggs, quinoa, beans and seeds, leafy greens
- If I am not having a meal after my workout I snack on fruits, such as berries, kiwi and pineapple
- wholegrain pita and hummus with raw veggies (yes, I can have this every day)
This is more or less my routine and I would love to know what you snack on to optimise your workout results. Let me know in the comments below! 🙂