What you eat can have a big impact on how you perform and recover from your workouts. Therefore, fuelling them properly is essential to getting the most out of your sweat session. It can sometimes seem a little confusing with the host of conflicting information on the internet. It’s for this reason that we’re laying down the basics. The truth is it really depends on the type of exercise you’re engaging in as to what you should be eating before and after your session.
Before you read on we must clarify that these are general recommendations and of course the time of day will influence what you decide to eat. For example some people can’t get out of bed in the morning without the thought of breakfast whilst for others it makes them feel a little nauseous. As a result, some people can function better when they train fasted whilst others can’t so the message here is to listen to your body and fuel yourself accordingly.
First up, we’re focussing on fuelling up before your workout. Below we’ve broken down the advice into the different types of sessions you may engage in.
Yoga/ Pilates: Opt for a light meal or snack pre-session. You’re looking for something just enough to provide you with some energy but nothing too difficult for your gut to handle. A yoghurt with ½ a banana or a date is ample.
HIIT: A HIIT session is no walk in the park, therefore fuelling for it is vital, If you’re loading up pre-session, go for faster releasing carbohydrates and a source of protein e.g. a slice of toast with scrambled egg or scrambled tofu, hummus and white pitta bread or a banana smoothie are all great options. Our Peanut and Berry Protein Waffles are a great pre-HIIT delight!
Strength: For a strength workout opt for slower releasing carbohydrates and a source of lean protein as this help to maintain your energy levels throughout the session. Natural yoghurt with some berries, oat cakes and cottage cheese or a protein shake are all ideal.
- LISS: LISS, otherwise known as low intensity steady state exercise requires plenty of complex carbohydrates as these will be slower releasing and keep you fuller for longer. It’s also a great opportunity to load up on fibre to help you hit your 30g a day requirement. Opt for beans on rye toast, a jacket sweet potato or a brown rice bowl. If you’re engaging in LISS such as a walk for less than an hour then fuelling up won’t be as essential.
Now you’re clued up on the pre-workout options, you might be wondering what you should consume post workout. There’s a common misconception that you need to pack in the protein as soon as the session is over. However, we now know that this isn’t the case. As long as you’re reaching for the right fuel at your next meal or snack (e.g. within a few hours) then you’re on the right track.
Yoga/ Pilates: If you’re not hungry after these sessions refuelling is not essential. Although, some yoga and pilates sessions can be intense so you may find your stomach grumbling. Ensure that you’re focusing on complex carbohydrates (such as wholegrains or legumes) and a source of protein at your next meal or snack.
HIIT: During your HIIT session you deplete your glycogen stores (this is the storage form of carbohydrates). You’re also making small tears to your muscles and so a source of protein will be required too. You may need a larger portion than normal. A chicken or tofu curry served with brown rice or a bean based burger (fully loaded in a wholegrain bun) are ideal options. Our Chicken Tagine is a great source of complex carbohydrates and protein, making it the perfect post workout option!
Strength: Strength training causes significant damage to your muscles. Fear not though, this damage is natural and is essential to helping you get stronger. Focus on ensuring this meal or snack is protein heavy! Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and vegetables, meat/fish and roasted veggies, a protein shake or a yoghurt bowl is perfect. If you’re an egg eater they can be a great option as they’re rich in leucine which helps with muscle repair and recovery.
- LISS: This type of exercise really varies, you may go for a casual walk in the park in which case the chances are you don’t particularly need to focus on a refuel meal/snack. Equally you may go on a hilly hike in which case you’re likely to be feeling hungry! Opt for a healthy balanced meal at the end of a more strenuous or longer LISS session. Ensure you’re incorporating complex carbohydrates, proteins AND healthy fats. Try our Vegan Fish Pie for a hearty post LISS session.
Where possible try to incorporate fruits or veggies into your post workout meals as they’re rich in antioxidants and so help to reduce some of the cell damage caused naturally during exercise.
Finally… after every workout remember to rehydrate. Hydration is an absolutely pivotal component to exercise recovery and so ensuring you’re consuming adequate amounts of water (drink to thirst) is important!
There you have some top tips for supporting your workouts. Do remember that everyone is unique and therefore it’s important to listen to your body and fuel/refuel in the way which suits you best.