This is definitely in my top three most asked questions, and rightly so! Why work your butt off in the gym and not reap maximum rewards? Knowing the best foods to eat pre and post workouts is crucial as when tailored correctly, it can massively increase the speed at which you achieve your goals. The difficulty is that pre and post workout routines can change significantly depending on what that goal is.
For example, somebody looking to lose fat is going to have a completely different plan than a body builder looking to put on large amounts of muscle. The same goes for an athlete who needs to perform at their maximum ability every training session, it will differ to the regular gym-goer. There is no one pre/post workout rule for everyone. It’s different for each individual based on their metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and much more,, but at the very minimum we are able to categorise dietary recommendations into goals, or what that person is looking to achieve.
The goal I want to concentrate on is fat loss. It’s the most common one I get asked about and so I want to shed some light on what you should be eating before and after a workout specifically designed for fat loss.
The same rules of fat loss apply whether you want to lose 5kg or 20kg.
At the very core of it, in order to lose fat you need to burn more calories than than you consume.
1 lbs = 3,500 Calories.
Therefore in order to lose 7 lbs (roughly 1/2 stone), you need to create a deficit of 24,500 calories.
In order to achieve that fat loss as healthy and efficiently as possible, it’s important to get the diet aspect right so you don’t let your hard work in the gym go to waste.
What to Eat Pre-workout
This might sound a little strange, but the best thing to eat before a workout when you want to lose fat is”¦
When trying to lose fat, you should not be concerned about having a specific pre-workout snack before exercising – you don’t need it. The best time to workout for fat loss is in the morning, before breakfast. If that doesn’t suit your routine and you prefer to exercise in the evenings, eat as healthily as you would during the day and again, don’t worry about re-fuelling up just before the workout.
Unless you are on an incredibly low carb diet or planning a two-hour workout, your muscles will already have enough glycogen stored in them to carry you through the workout effectively. If you eat a banana or energy bar before a workout, all you’re doing is training incredibly hard to burn off the calories you’ve just eaten; you won’t actually be tapping into fat stores or creating a calorie deficit which will lead to fat loss.
If you feel like you can’t perform well on an empty stomach, then stick to foods that have a low GL (Glycemic Load ”“ doesn’t cause a spike in insulin levels promoting fat storage) and won’t interfere with your digestive system.
The best options are berries, coconut oil, nuts or if you feel hungry even though you’ve already eaten the drinking a few big gulps of water can do the trick.
What to Eat Post Workout
Based on the fact that your exercise routine contains a combination of cardiovascular training and weight training, the following is the most effective post workout snacks for fat loss:
(If you don’t include weight training in the workout, now is a great time to start! It’s an excellent way to burn more calories and fat)
In our bodies, we have specialised cells to store fat and carbohydrates, ready for when we need them. We don’t however have any specific cells for storing protein. As a result, any excess protein that we consume that isn’t used does not get stored as fat, it gets excreted.
Hence, it’s the perfect post-workout meal or snack for fat loss and muscle recovery. Your body uses what it needs to re-build muscle and then gets rid of the rest. A protein shake using whey protein is my number one choice for an after workout snack. If breakfast or dinner is quick to follow the workout, eggs or a good source of protein such as chicken or fish works well too.
If you need your carbs, after a workout is the time to eat them. This way they are used to refill glycogen stores rather than being stored as fat. Your metabolism is also increased after a workout so the body can process and use them more effectively. Always try to ensure you are getting a good quality source of carbohydrate such as sweet potato or whole grain produce.
Do not buy into protein bars and energy drinks for after, or before, a workout when your goal is fat loss. They are packed full of calories (can be up to 400 per bar!), sugars and have poor nutritional value compared to other sources of protein.
I hope this helps to make the subject of pre and post workout snacks a little easier.
Please feel free to ask me any questions and note that if you have any concerns or medical conditions, you should always consult a doctor before starting a fat loss/intensive exercise programme. This information is based on my personal experience and that of within the industry, not from a qualified nutritionist stand point.
Hello and welcome! I'm Carly, originally from London but currently enjoying a little adventure in Dubai. A travel and wellness blogger exploring the world one step at a time. Think fabulous food at undiscovered gems, unique destinations, skin care obsessions and so much more. This is my life, I hope you enjoy the ride!