You’ve heard over and over again that “food is fuel.” You’ve also heard (too many times, perhaps!) that the kind of food you fuel with makes a huge difference. And common sense tells you that cotton candy and snow cones make pretty horrible pre-workout foods. However, there might be some things that surprise you about the dos and don’ts regarding pre- and post-workout nutrition. And especially since the high-intensity interval training workouts you do at FIT36 are so challenging, your nutrition requirements before and after are a little different than with standard exercise. Read on for what you need to know, and what you need to eat.
- EAT for Pete’s sake. It can be tempting to skip the pre-workout snack or meal for the sake of calorie-burning, but it’s not smart. Going into a workout on an empty stomach can lead to diminished energy during the workout, causing you to perform at sub-par levels. Plus, we generally try to avoid having members woozily pass out on the studio floor from low blood sugar because he or she didn’t eat beforehand.
- Grab a nanner. What’s not to love about bananas? They’re cheap, portable, sweet, and offer the all-important workout mineral potassium which maintains muscle and nerve function. Bananas offer valuable carbohydrates which will help keep your energy level up during your workout, too.
- Get complex. Pair that banana with some oatmeal or whole-grain toast. It’s ideal to get a nice mix of simple and complex carbohydrates. They burn at different rates, and this way you’ll have fuel from beginning to end.
- Get revved. A little caffeine may give you the extra push you need to power through the full 36 minutes with your best effort. If coffee gives you an upset stomach, try some green tea. Caffeine takes about 45 minutes to be absorbed into your bloodstream, so time your intake accordingly.
- Yes, there’s a nice after-burn effect after HIIT where your metabolism is raised. And yes, you just blazed through a ton of calories during your workout. However, this doesn’t give you a junk food hall pass. You’ve still gotta be smart about your food intake to help your body repair and rebuild your muscles.
- We’re pro protein. While a huge steak can be hard for a depleted body to digest, some low-fat protein like chicken, fish, cottage cheese, or Greek yogurt are great choices for helping your muscles to repair and grow. We recommend 20-40 grams, or 0.14-0.23 grams per pound of body weight, within about 30 minutes after you exercise.
- Again with the carbs. Carbohydrates help your muscles to replenish the glycogen they spent during your exercise. Aim for 0.5-0.7 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. Or, simply try for a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein.
- After working out is not the time to practice self-control with a virtuous snack of raw veggies. Your body is begging for the proper nutrients so that it can begin to repair and grow and heal, and get you back to exercising again in no time. If you must chomp down on some veggies, be sure to dip them in plenty of cottage cheese, a Greek yogurt concoction, or even some pureed canned beans.