One of the most important components of an effective workout is what you eat before, during, and after you hit the weights and cardio machines.
You want to start preparing your body for your workout about two hours before you begin. Make sure to drink about two cups (16 oz.) of water before you hit the gym, to ensure you won’t have any issues with dehydration.
You won’t want to eat too close to your workout as it can cause cramping, so, unless you’re opting for a pre-workout shake, I'd recommend planning to eat a half-hour to an hour before you start sweating.
Before your workout, your body is going to need food that will make it easy to pull energy from what you're digesting, rather than from your muscles (which is where it can pull energy from if you exercise on an empty stomach), so make sure you're consuming some carbs and a moderate amount of protein. Something simple, like a slice of pizza or a chicken and cheese sandwich, should work fine. If you get your carbs from fruit and vegetables, then things like bananas are great for fuel! Just make sure to stay away from soda and fried or greasy foods, as these can impair your workout, potentially causing dehydration and a dip in energy.
Giving your body the right kinds of fuel before a workout is key to both weight loss and muscle gain.
During a workout, you want to ensure you stay hydrated. Generally, all you need is a bottle of water to sip on when you're feeling a bit thirsty, but if you're going to be working out for an extended period of time, or if you'll be somewhere very hot or humid (so basically, if you'll be sweating excessively) it's a good idea to have a sports drink, or just anything that can both hydrate you while replenishing electrolytes and giving you some sugars (natural or otherwise) to give your body a much needed boost!
After your workout your muscles are recovering and rebuilding, meaning there's one thing they'll really need: protein. If it's dinner time, a good go-to is roasted chicken with broccoli — and if you're carbing it up, go with some brown rice on the side. If you're on the go, then mix up a protein shake!
What you eat before and after a workout will vary from person to person, and there really aren't any rules, just suggestions. Just remember, you're feeding your body fuel, and you're getting the building blocks for some new muscle, so keep that in mind when you choose what you're putting in, because that's what you'll get out. After all, you truly are what you eat.
Enter to Win a $5,000 Scholarship! No Essay Required.