Today I’m going to share something with you I would have paid $500 to know 4 years ago.
I was training for my first marathon and was running in the evenings after work. One night I came home and was feeling pretty hungry and thought I’d eat something before going for a run. Ever had this dilemma? I prepared spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, laced up my shoes 2 hrs later and found myself nearly throwing-up after only 15 minutes.
Here’s what I wished someone would have told me…
Working Out: What to eat before, during & after one
- Always eat light before, and big meals in between.
- If you’re going to workout in the evening, eat a light plant-based dinner 3 hours before, or piece of fruit before and meal afterwards.
- Go easy on the bread, it’s dehydrating and pulls the water from your blood and muscles.
- If you’re going to workout in the morning, do it on an empty stomach and eat when you get back. If you’re hungry, grab a piece of fruit with lots of water in it. IE an orange, apple or some pineapple.
- Always drink lots of water when working out, especially outside on hot days. Your body can handle hunger, but not dehydration.
- You Need All 3: carbs, fats and proteins.
- Carbs & Fats are workout fuel.
- Protein is not fuel, it’s for repairing your muscles. Focus on eating protein an hour after your workout.
- Carbohydrates are quick fuel your body uses first, and are the main fuel for high-intensity workouts.
- Sweet potatoes, pasta and bread are slow burning fuel, which means you will be fuller longer. These are good after workouts.
- Fruit and sugar are quick burning fuel, which is good as a light pre-workout snack because they give you fast energy.
- Fat is a slow burning fuel needed for longer workouts, like 2+ Hrs such as marathons, hiking, triathlons, etc. It’s slow burning and you should not eat too much of it before a workout.
- It’s fairly consistent. Most mornings you may wake up ready for an hour workout before eating anything, but sometimes you might need a small piece of fruit to carry you through a workout.
- If you get hungry mid-workout, go for some fruit with high-water content like apples or pears. Bananas and dates have lots of sugar for energy but you need to drink extra water with these.
- For Running or Hot Yoga first thing in the morning, drink a bunch of water the night before and throughout the night.
- Post workout think salads, smoothie bowls or grain bowls with lots of fresh vegetables.
- Eat mostly plant-based, period. This will give you optimal digestion, metabolism and recovery before/after workouts.
What Not to eat before, during or after a workout
- Eggs before – there’s too much protein and fat, which are not what will give you the burst of energy you’re hoping for.
- PBJ Sandwich or oatmeal before – I used to eat these before long runs. I stopped because nuts have too much fat and bread is too filling and made me feel sluggish.
- Coffee before – it’s too dehydrating. Get off the joe and get that natural energy flow back from whole foods.
- Protein bars during – again save the protein until afterwards, your stomach will thank you.
- Gatorade during – get yourself some coconut water and give your body some whole food electrolytes to sip on.
- Chocolate Milk after – full of refined sugar and animal fats. Give your body an antioxidant-rich superfood smoothie with almond butter, greens and protein powder instead!
This is the whole reason I switched to a plant-based diet. I’ve realized that fueling my workouts right depends on how well I follow these principles. If you eat light, hydrate well and get some good easily digestible proteins afterwards you’ll be on the right track.