Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition Tips

What do lifting weights, squatting and cardio all have in common? No, the commonality is not that they’re all nightmarish activities you dread but rather the fact they are all exercises that burn calories.  It’s important to replenish your body of the nutrients and water you lose when you complete these activities so you won’t be sore for weeks, and you get the full benefit of every workout for a stronger and healthier body.

Pre-workout snacks should be consumed about 30 minutes before your workout. A good snack should consist mostly of carbohydrates, as carbs provide you with energy, speed, stamina and concentration to ensure you have a good sweat session. Aim for easily digestible foods to avoid a sluggish feeling that will only make you want to cut your workout short. Examples of quick and easy pre-workout snacks are:

It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day and during your workout. Taking small sips every so often will help avoid bloating while keeping you hydrated. Try to drink at least 16 ounces of water within 30 minutes of leaving the gym to replace all the liquid you sweat out.

A post-workout snack or meal should be focused on protein to repair the muscle tissue you broke down during the workout and carbs to promote a quick recovery. This snack should be consumed within an hour of finishing at the gym. Enjoying fruits and vegetables post workout will help rehydrate you and replenish lost electrolytes. Coconut water is another great way to refuel your body. Here are some other examples of protein-packed post-workout snacks and meals:

You lose a lot of micronutrients in your sweat. Here are some of the most common nutrients lost during a workout and ways to get them back into your system:

  • Potassium is essential to muscle and nerve function and maintaining the body’s water and pH balances. Low levels of potassium can show up as cramps, cardiac issues, nausea and swelling in the hands and feet. Some foods that are high in potassium are bananas, oranges, leafy greens, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers and coconut water.
  • Magnesium relays signals between the brain and body, improves memory and learning, helps maintain a healthy heartbeat and is involved with muscle contraction. Depression, weakness, high blood pressure and heart disease could be the effects of prolonged magnesium deficiencies. Some foods that have high levels of magnesium are pumpkin seeds, almonds, boiled spinach, cashews, peanuts, soy milk and black beans.
  • Sodium, like potassium, is important in the function of muscles and nerves, as well as balancing fluid levels. Low sodium levels can lead to nausea, vomiting, difficulty concentrating, confusion, agitation and headaches. Foods that can help combat sodium loss following a workout are cottage cheese, vegetable juice, shrimp, pickles, canned beans, chicken broth, aged cheese, soy sauce and tomato sauce.

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