Should you eat before you train? It’s totally up to you! Some people feel better training in a fasted state, while others feel light-headed and sluggish without a little something in their stomachs. Generally, I tell clients; unless they’re working out early in the morning, doing a low-intensity work-out or practicing intermittent fasting in an informed way (see previous blog on IF), having at least a small meal before a workout is a good idea. Especially when trying a new workout, or training at a high-intensity.
If you do decide to eat before your workout, you want something that: 1. Is nutrient dense, with simple carbs (fruit) to give you energy to kick start you sweat session. 2. Contains complex carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potato, or whole grain bread) to sustain you through your workout. 3. Has protein.
The exact macros all depend on how much you can stomach while training, and your daily caloric needs. If your goal is weight-loss; a general rule is to keep it light like the recipes below. Also, try eating 1 hour before you work-out, so it doesn’t weigh you down or upset your stomach.
Here are some easy to prepare pre-workout meals: Beet Smoothie Beets have been proven to improve performance in workouts. With just ½ a scoop of protein powder, this recipe provides an appropriate amount of protein before a workout.
1 Beet (medium, peeled and diced)
1/2 cup Frozen Raspberries
1/2 cup Frozen Banana
1/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
20 grams Vanilla Protein Powder (1/2 scoop)
Top with:1 Tbsp Almond Butter
1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
1. In your blender or food processor, combine the beet, raspberries, banana, milk and protein powder. Blend until smooth and thick. Start on low and gradually increase speed until fully combined.
2. Transfer to a bowl and add a drizzle of raw nut butter and sprinkle of hemp seeds
Extra Topping Ideas
A light sprinkle of granola, fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango, chia seeds, cacao nibs or shredded coconut. (Keep in mind, each new topping means additional calories.)
Calories 410, Sugar 25g, Fiber 11g, Carbs 48g, Fat 17g, Protein 25g
A quick and easy recipe that can be meal prepped in batches and taken on the go.
1/3 cup Oats (quick oats work best)
1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
3/4 tsp Maple Syrup
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tbsp All-natural Peanut Butter
¼ Apple (cored and diced)
1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid. ("Ball" Mason Jars are great, but any sealed container works) Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
Add an extra splash of almond milk or a drizzle of maple syrup to sweeten more if desired.
For More Protein: Add an extra spoonful of nut butter.
You can store in the fridge for up to 4 days. or until ready to eat.
Calories 307, Sugar 10g, Fiber 6g, Carbs 33g, Fat 16g, Protein 11g
Sweet Potato Toast
Sweet Potatoes provide healthy complex carbs that will sustain you through your workout plus a ton of antioxidants that will help with recovery, too.
1/2 Sweet Potato (large)
2 Tbsp All-natural Peanut or Almond Butter
1/2 Banana (Sliced)
1 tsp Hemp Seeds+ a dash of cinnamon to taste
1. Cut pointy ends off sweet potato. Slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Use two slices.
2. Pop the sweet potato slices into the toaster and toast on high twice. You may need to toast a third time depending on your toaster.
3. Place toasted sweet potato on a plate and spread with peanut butter then top with sliced banana, hemp seeds, and cinnamon.
Optional: drizzle lightly with maple syrup to sweeten.
Calories 291, Protein 9g, Sugar 12g, Fiber 4g, Carbs 28g, Fat 18g
Chances are you’re pretty hungry after your workout. But your post-training meal is not just about satisfying hunger. This is a crucial time for maximizing both the benefits you will see from training, and how well your body recovers for the next work-out. Ideally, you want to aim for a meal that is high in protein and has a good amount of complex carbs. The amino acids in protein provide the building blocks for new muscle, while the carbs replenish your glycogen stores. You should be looking to consume 15-25 grams of protein, ideally 30 minutes after exercise.
Despite the popular misconception that “more is better” when it comes to protein, research shows consuming more than 15-25 grams in your post workout window has no additional benefit to muscle building. 25 grams is the maximum amount of protein needed in one meal to stimulate protein synthesis. You need what you need, but more is definitely not better. Any extra protein in your meal means extra calories that will be stored as fat or used as fuel.
The easiest option for ensuring you get enough protein after your work out is by using a clean, organic (preferably plant-based) protein powder 30 minutes - 1 hour after you finish training. This is the best option if you are commuting home or cannot make a meal within the ideal refuel window.
Post Work-Out Protein Shake:
1 scoop – Protein Powder1 1/2 cups - Water (Or unsweetened almond milk)
Calories 150, Protein 30g, Sugar 1g, Fiber 2g, Carbs 4g, Fat 3g
If you do have the time to make a meal or snack, here are some easy post-workout meals that provide everything you need for optimal muscle recovery:
Black Bean and Quinoa Burrito Bowl
Easily meal prepped as you can store all the ingredients in separate containers for a few days in the fridge. The black beans provide antioxidants and protein along with the quinoa and (optional) egg. 1/2 cup Quinoa (Cook according to package)1/4 cup Black Beans1/4 of an Avocado1/4 cup Organic Salsa1 Egg
1. Prepare quinoa according to the package. Season with a squeeze of lemon, salt, and pepper.
2. Heat up beans in a separate pot.
3. Cook egg on medium heat with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Top with salsa and avocado.To make it Plant-based: Replace Egg with savory marinated tofu.
Calories 541, Sugar 3g, Fiber 14g, Carbs 74g, Fat 18g, Protein 25g
Hummus Avocado Toast
With a high-quality whole grain bread, pumpkin seeds and hummus; this is sneaky-high in protein and super easy to prepare
2 slices Whole Grain Bread (“Ezekiel” or “Dave’s” Bread recommended)
2 tbsp Hummus
1/8 tsp Sea Salt & Black Pepper or Trader Joes’ Everything but the Bagel Seasoning
1 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Seeds
1. Toast bread
2. Spread Hummus on toast, then top with mashed Avocado.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Top with Pumpkin Seeds.
Calories 470, Sugar 6g, Fiber15g, Carbs 50g, Fat 25g, Protein 16g ______________________________________________________________________________ Kara Lang Romero is a holistic nutritionist, former professional soccer player, Olympian, sports broadcaster, mom, yogini, and plant-based foodie.
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