We all know what it takes to successfully complete and push through any given workout whether it’s a walk or run, group fitness class or circuit training at the health club – strength, stamina and energy to power through, regardless of your fitness level.
Fueling your body with the proper nutrition and energy it needs will give you the best and healthiest workout possible. Regardless of your diet preference or lifestyle, what you choose to eat and drink before and after your workouts will make all the difference if you commit yourself.
As a follower of the Paleo lifestyle, you may be wondering what foods and drinks are best, which should be avoided and when you should be fueling up pre and post workout. Let’s dig in!
Your body needs quality carbohydrates, lean protein, heart-healthy fats and lots of fluids to offer the energy and endurance it needs to exercise well. Focus on foods that are low in fiber and that your body already tolerates well.
Drink plenty of water before your workout to avoid dehydration. Choose to eat lean protein and healthy fats to help with energy, muscle growth and repair. Options include eating 4 ounces of grilled chicken with steamed vegetables or a spinach salad with avocado and walnuts, for example.
For something quicker for those on the go, opt for sliced turkey breast, olives, a few hard-boiled eggs and one piece of fruit, or a nutrient-rich smoothie with fruits and vegetables. Sugars from the fruits will help with energy and antioxidants for cell regeneration. Need something even easier? Go with a handful of mixed, raw nuts and one apple.
After a great workout sweat session, your body has already automatically used up all of the nutrients stored in your body including the ones consumed right before your workout. Now is the time to add new and healthy nutrients to repair and recover.
Try eating within 30 minutes after completing your workout to reload your body with much-needed protein, glycogen and carbohydrates. Avoid consuming fats after a workout, as it tends to slow down digestion. Avoid high sugar foods like all fruits. Instead, choose to eat lean protein like chicken, canned tuna or hard-boiled eggs, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or butternut squash to help with rejuvenating muscle growth and energy.
Rehydrate your body by drinking plenty of water. Coconut water is also a great option to help with digestion, hydration and refuel your body with electrolytes. If you’re short on time, go with a healthy and easy protein shake with your protein powder of choice, starchy vegetables, water (or coconut water) and ice.
Other Helpful Tips and Resources
- Drinking plenty of fluids is essential – water acts as your body’s cooling system so staying hydrated is key. You can do this by drinking plenty of fluids with your meals and drinking 16 ounces of water about two hours before exercising. Continue to drink water throughout your workouts. After your workout, that’s right you guessed it … keep on drinking water to rehydrate!
- Sports drinks may be a good option if you are exercising for more than 60 minutes in a hot and humid condition, or if you sweat a lot during high-intensity workouts. The carbohydrates and sodium in these types of drinks help to quickly refuel what has been depleted.
- For all those early morning fitness folks, it’s OK to exercise on an empty stomach as long as it is a low-intensity workout like a quick walk or light jog. Just be sure to hydrate. If you’re going all out with a high-intensity workout however, grab something quick to help offer the fuel your body needs.