Its a jungle out there when it comes to finding information on how to eat before and after a workout. So many sites, saying so many different things. Some of the time the information is conflicting and downright confusing.
I'm not completely qualified yet in Sports Nutrition, however I have the basics, and personally I think its all I need. I'm not body building, I'm not an endurance athlete and I am not working out everyday. I am a regular girl, in the gym when I can, working on all areas of my body.
Firstly, go easy on the PROTEIN!
You only need 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. That's it. For the average woman that's about 46g per day. Here's an example, if I were to eat 1 cup of oats for breakfast (26g of protein) and 1 cup of chickpeas in my dinner (39g of protein) that would be enough. Now this is just a guideline and as I am predominantly vegetarian I do need to make sure I am eating a wide variety of food throughout the day to get all my amino acids. If you are eating meat, its certainly a lot easier to consume all 9 essential aminos in one go.
This leads me to my next vegetarian protein point; You don't need to perfectly combine proteins at every meal.
Over the years we have been told to eat grains with legumes, vegetables with rice, to ensure we are getting all our amino acids in one sitting. It is true that vegetables, grains, nuts and other non-meat foods don't have the 'perfect' amino profile because usually there is one acid lacking (known as the 'limiting amino acid'). HOWEVER our bodies are very very very smart! They will create a pool of all the amino acids throughout the day, and piece them all together as and when they need them. So as long as you are eating a good variety of wholesome foods, you can be assured you are getting all your aminos!
Next, DO NOT OVER EAT PROTEIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! (<<< note the amount of exclamation marks!)
When your body breaks down protein, it produces nitrogen waste, which your body then needs to remove from your system. This can put an awful lot of stress on your kidneys and other detoxing sites if you are eating too much, not to mention the aging effects of protein overload (hello wrinkles!). Take care of your kidneys...you need them working at their best!! Also important to note that the extra calories from protein will be turned into sugar resulting in increased weight gain and high blood sugar levels, which is not what we want. So eat what you need, and don't get too obsessed over it!
What do I eat when I am going to the gym?
Well, I have decided to share with you my pre and post workout eats, so you can see there's no need to make it complicated!
PRE WORKOUT: 1 big glass of water and a green smoothie. I workout in the morning, so this is the first thing I eat so I want it to be light but packed full of nutrients. The fact that it is blended makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients right away, giving me the energy I need to proceed with my workout. Plus the water and smoothie ensures I am super hydrated!
During my workout: I take a break break 3 times within an hour to drink a few gulps of water. Staying hydrated is crucial, but don't over do it otherwise all that liquid will be jiggling around in your belly...not fun!
POST WORKOUT: A delicious smoothie with almond milk, oats, banana, cacao, flax seeds, chia seeds, nut butter and blueberries. Oats, nut butter and seeds are all great sources of protein so there's no need for a protein powder! You have about a 90 minute window after your workout is done to give your body all the vitamins, minerals and calories it needs. Make sure whatever you eat during this time is calorie dense and nutrient dense at the same time. TOP TIP: Make the smoothie before you go to the gym, that way the flax and chia seeds can soak and expand ensuring they are at their highest nutrient potential and don't cause havoc in your digestive system.
Also to note: Your body produces a lot of free radicals when you workout so make sure what you eat before and after has plenty of antioxidants (cacao and blueberries are really high in these little gems!). The free radicals created by working out causes accelerated aging so keep this in mind if you work out a lot, no wants a fit bod but lots of aging wrinkles on their face!
So that's my big point! Remember your body needs ALL nutrients in a balanced meal or snack, before and after the gym. Keep it really simple and most of all LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, it will tell you what it wants!
Hope this has helped you and if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me!
Stay healthy and happy!