How To Eat Pre & Post Exercising
When to eat before exercise
Eating a large meal immediately before exercising is a bad idea, as your body won't have time to digest the food properly, leading to stitches, cramps and indigestion.
However, fitness experts recommend that you have a small meal or snack containing some protein 1-2 hours before, as this will supply you with slow-releasing energy and mobilise fat stores. Bananas are another great source of energy for exercise.
The post-workout meal
After an intensive workout it's very common to experience sugar cravings, because the glycogen levels in your muscles will be running low. Don't be tempted to snack on sweet things to get that sugar hit!
Your post-workout meal needs to contain carbohydrate and protein to maximise your muscle recovery from training. Generally it is suggested that post-workout nutrition should contain protein and carbohydrates in a ratio of 2g of carbohydrate to every 1g of protein.
Protein will facilitate carbohydrate storage to improve recovery if it is consumed with carbohydrates during the initial two hours after a workout. What's more, it curbs the 'desire for sweetness' often experienced when the body is tired.
Some ideal post-training snacks include:
- 22 - 30g of nuts and another banana.
- A boiled egg sandwich (no spread and ideally white of egg only).
- A cereal bar, chicken sandwich on white bread (white bread is broken down faster so provides the necessary fast-absorbing carbohydrate).
If you are familiar with what food sources are mainly carbohydrate and which are protein then it is very easy to find a post-workout snack that suits your taste as well as your physiological needs. Just remember the 2:1 ratio mentioned above and look to use carbohydrate sources that are at the higher end of the glycaemic index (i.e. are broken down quickly by the body).
Alternatively, you could consume a liquid recovery drink post-exercise, as some people find liquids easier to digest immediately after training. An example of a liquid drink you could make yourself would contain 20-25g fast digesting protein (like whey protein powder, available in all reputable health food shops) and 40-50g of simple carbohydrate (like Gatorade).This combination of protein with carbohydrates has been shown to enhance muscle glycogen recovery by 22% when compared to carbohydrate-only ingestion.