What you do before and after a workout can easily make or break the effectiveness of the workout itself. That’s why it’s so important to fuel up properly before you start sweating and feed your muscles with the nutrients they need to recover after your workout. As a fitness trainer, I have always told my clients to take the time to think about their food choices before and after their workouts if they want results. To that point, people are always asking me what I eat before and after my workouts. After all, if you’re putting in the time, you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to make it worth your while. So I’m always happy to share my pre- and post-workout meals:
Most days, I wake up pretty early in the morning to get to the gym and teach group fitness classes. It’s important to top off your fuel tank after a nights rest. Typically your stored glucose levels are low when you wake up and if you are going to do an intense workout (Yes U Can!) you will be burning a lot of carbohydrates when you exercise. At 5 am I don’t have the time or desire to eat a big breakfast. Therefore, I’m looking for carbs, caffeine and electrolytes before getting my workout on usually about 20-30 minutes before (or up to an hour before if you have time). My typical options:
- A banana with a cup of coffee – This is a simple option for early morning and easy to eat on the go. Plus, bananas are easy on the stomach and provide you with the carbs, potassium while the coffee gives you the caffeine you need to get your energy up.
- Vega® Clean Energy – This has become my go-to as of late. Why? Because it is refreshing in the morning. It has naturally occurring 80mg caffeine from green and black tea, electrolytes and carbs to give me energy. I mix it in my shaker bottle and sip it down on the way to the gym. Watch out world … I am ready to go after consuming this pre-workout drink!
Once I’ve made it through my workout, it’s time for my post workout meal which often becomes my breakfast since I’m a morning exerciser. And I’m here to tell you -your post-workout fuel (no matter what time of day you workout) makes a huge difference. Assuming you had a hard workout, you probably used up all your stored glucose, easily sweat over a liter of water and broke down both muscle and red blood cells. Getting much-needed protein, adequate carbohydrates and some healthy fat is crucial to recovery. Protein is made of amino acids that help repair your muscles. Carbs will restore your glucose levels and healthy fats will help with recovery as well as help you feel fuller longer. In a perfect world, you would consume this meal within 30 minutes of completing your workout. But you have a window up to two hours afterward.
My go-to options for this meal are:
- Greek yogurt with blueberries and almonds – Anyone who knows me, knows I love Greek yogurt and eat it almost every day. It also makes for a great recovery snack thanks to the loads of protein you get from each serving. The berries provide carbs and the nuts provide more protein and healthy fat.
- Chocolate Banana Nut Butter Smoothie made with Vega® Clean Protein – I have dabbled with different plant based protein powders over the years but this one is by far the best. I was intrigued by the addition of pumpkin seeds into the mix – one of my absolute favorite foods on earth! I tasted pumpkin seed protein powder a while back and remembered it was creamy and rich. This Vega® Clean Protein has 25 grams of plant-based protein from pea, hemp, alfalfa and pumpkin seeds. The taste is smooth not gritty like some plant based protein powders. And, although you can mix it just with water in a shaker cup, I like to make a decadent smoothie. Here is my favorite recipe –it’s super easy and delicious:
Chocolate Banana Nut Butter Post-Workout Smoothie
1 scoop Vega® Clean Chocolate Protein Powder
1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon nut butter
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Handful ice cubes
½ c to 1 cup of almond milk
So, there you have it, my favorite foods to fuel my workouts. I have been a fan of the Vega brand for a while because it’s non-GMO, made without artificial colors, sweeteners or flavors (I’m not into neon colored stuff with fake sugar like so many other scary energy and protein drinks!) and is vegan certified. While I’m not vegan or vegetarian, I still try to consume as much food from plant-based sources. I like to live by the quote from the author Michael Pollen: “Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.”
For more great fitness and nutrition tips, head on over to FuelYourBetter.com. It’s a great resource whether you’re a bodybuilder or 5K runner to use as you strive toward meeting your fitness goals. And make sure to share your progress using the hashtag #FuelYourBetter with the community at @VegaFueled to find inspiration, motivation and additional tips.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of White Wave.However, those of you who know me know I only talk about products I use and believe in. The opinions and text are all mine.