There’s been a lot of conflicting information about when and what to eat before and after your workout. Should you have a blast of caffeine? Should you fuel up before or after exercise-or both? We posed these questions and more to Ridgewood, NJ, nutritionist Lisa Suriano.
“In order to get the most out of your workout time, it is important to fight fatigue through diet and nutrition,” Suriano says. “Exercising on an empty stomach can bring on exhaustion more quickly and can cause overwhelming nausea and dizziness in some people. Fueling and hydrating your body properly prior to your workout will allow you to perform your best.”
So what should you eat before you exercise? Suriano suggests that about an hour or two before your workout, you should eat a balance of protein and carbohydrates that add up to 300 to 400 calories paired with 16 to 20 ounces of water. “A turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with a small piece of fruit or two cups of whole grain pasta with a ½ cup tomato sauce and a ½ cup of steamed spinach would be ideal pre-workout meals.”
If you’re about to work out, but haven’t eaten for two hours or more, grab a snack that’s about 100 calories before you hit the gym. She suggests bananas, pineapple or watermelon to get some quick energy that’s also hydrating. “Since our bodies digest fats and whole grains more slowly, avoid cheese, nuts and high fiber snack foods,” Suriano says.
Two hours post-workout is an important time to restore your body’s energy with food. A meal that’s a ratio of 4:1 carbs to protein is best. Try fruit smoothies with added whole wheat, wheat germ and protein powder. During this time, you’ll keep burning calories-as much as 190 extra calories after you stop exercising. Just keep your portions under control so you don’t undo all your hard work.
As for that rumor about caffeine, it may in fact enhance your athletic performance; however, “it is never advisable to overwhelm your body with caffeine. Therefore, stick to an eight ounce cup of coffee, 90 minutes to an hour prior to exercise for a boost in energy and endurance,” Suriano explains.
What are your favorite healthy pre- and post-workout meals?
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