Working out in the morning but short on time? As long as you had a significant meal the night before, simply hydrating with at least one glass of water will get you through a workout of moderate intensity that lasts fewer than 45 minutes (You should drink at least a glass of water upon waking up anyhow). If it’s been twelve hours since you ate your dinner or are planning a harder workout, it’s best to get some food into your system. Peanut butter and a banana will suffice.
If GoodLife’s Vice-President of Personal Training Brody Thorne has an early morning workout and ate a substantial dinner the night before, he drinks a branched-chain amino acid supplement and heads to the gym within half an hour.
It’s all about balance
Should you have time for a meal before your morning workout, Thorne recommends a breakfast consisting of meat, nuts and greens, and rotating between different types of each source food on each day: Beef, chicken, turkey or pork; Almonds, walnuts, pistachios or cashews, for example.
Not a meat person? Steel cut oatmeal with half a scoop of protein powder with blueberries and yogurt is also a great breakfast to consume before a workout, says Thorne.
Working out later
For those working out later on in the day, eat foods with some protein and carbohydrates two to three hours before your workout. Targeting 15 to 20 grams of protein with at least 30 grams of carbohydrates as your pre-workout meal should give you enough fuel to workout. If you’re going harder or for a longer period, increase the amount of carbohydrates in that pre-workout meal to ensure that you have the energy to complete your workout.
After your workout: EAT!
It is also important to eat after your workout to ensure that your body recovers faster and repairs muscles. Thorne emphasizes that you “Eat as soon as you can. The faster the better.”
Keep the following in mind for your post-workout shake or meal:
- Include a shake or meal with plenty of carbohydrates, protein and fat
- Aim for a ratio of 3 – 1 carbohydrates to protein in your post-workout meal (min. 15-25 grams of protein) with some fat, which Thorne says should be part of every meal
- Avoid processed carbohydrates and stick to fruits or starches
- If your stomach doesn’t seem to process a meal very well after working out, any protein powder that contains the nine essential amino acids will suffice when added to fruit and a fat (avocado, peanut butter or nuts). That will give you the carbohydrate, protein and fat mix that is beneficial to your recovery
- Recovery from a workout can take from 24-48 hours, so drink plenty of water and tailor your subsequent meals with a similar approach as your post-workout meal