Timing your nutrition around a workout is just as important as the exercise itself.
But if you don’t want to fill up on protein shakes and powders, what real foods can you eat before and after a workout to enhance your performance and help you recover?
Nutritionist and TV chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin recently took a look at this issue, highlighting the snacks you should look to before and after a gym session.
She also revealed why timing your carbohydrates is the key to a toned, lean body.
Nutritionist and TV chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin (pictured) highlights what foods you should eat before and after a workout
She said that before a workout is the best time to get in your carbohydrates and recommends a fruit or vegetable juice (stock image)
Zoe’s (pictured) other good examples of foods to include in your diet are wholegrain crackers or rice cakes spread with nut butter or ricotta
Best snacks before exercise
* 1-2 x fruit, nut and seed bliss balls.
* ¼ cup trail mix using fresh dates, coconut, berries and pumpkin seeds.
* 1 x piece of fresh fruit.
* 1 x fresh vegetable and fruit juice (eg beetroot, ginger, celery, lemon and carrot).
* 1-2 wholegrain crackers or rice cakes spread with nut butter or ricotta.
How you eat before you exercise of course depends on what you’re doing.
But if you’re planning on hitting up the gym, it is worth fuelling your stomach a little as it can help us ‘to work harder and see results faster’.
Zoe explained in a blog post that carbohydrates are the best pre-workout fuel, as they give you the energy you need for a workout class.
Her best examples are one or two pieces of fruit, nut and seed bliss balls, a quarter of a cup of trail mix or a cup of fresh vegetable or fruit juice.
‘One to two wholegrain crackers or rice cakes spread with nut butter or ricotta also works great if you’re planning on lifting weights,’ Zoe said.
Eating carbs before a workout means your body is given the fuel and power it needs to perform in that workout. It will also help you burn them off.
After exercise, ideally you should eat within 30 to 60 minutes – Zoe recommends leftover roasted root vegetables to help to fuel muscle repair (stock image)
Best snacks before exercise
* Homemade nut/muesli bar – using oats, banana, nuts and seeds.
* Smoothie using plant-based milk, fruit and hemp seeds or powder.
* High protein Greek yoghurt with berries and nuts/seeds.
* Handful of raw nuts/seeds and a piece of fruit.
* Left-over roasted root vegetables (carrot, beetroot, sweet potato) topped with hummus or ricotta.
* Boiled egg and spread of hummus on 1-2 wholegrain crackers or rice cakes.
Eating straight after you’ve finished working out is key to helping your muscles repair.
And the experts consistently advise you re-fuel between 30 and 60 minutes after exercise.
‘To help your body recover and to stabilise appetite post workout, it’s important to eat a snack or meal which contains some complex carbohydrates and protein,’ Zoe wrote.
‘If you can’t make it to a meal within approximately 60 minutes, some quick ideas include homemade nut or muesli bar, a smoothie using plant-based milk, fruit and help seeds or powder or high protein Greek yoghurt with berries and nuts and seeds.’
Surprisingly, Zoe also said leftover roasted root vegetables such as carrot, beetroot, and sweet potato topped with hummus or ricotta or a boiled egg and spread of hummus on crackers or rice cakes also works well.
If you can’t eat a meal within an hour of working out, Zoe said a handful of raw nuts/seeds and a piece of fruit are great ideas (stock image)
Speaking about what she recommends to clients, nutritionist Jessica Sepel said that runners should consider ‘a banana, lightly steamed veggies and nuts or coconut water’ an hour before.
‘After a run, drink some H2O or coconut water, get settled and within an hour enjoy a mixture of protein and carbs,’ she wrote.
Before a weights class, Jessica recommends a portion of fish or meat with a handful of nuts ‘for sustained energy’.
‘But if you’ve only got a few minutes, consider a small espresso (your coffee hit for the day), iced green tea or half a protein shake.
‘Afterwards is the best time to eat carbs. You glycogen stores are depleted and your muscles are looking for energy to grow strong,’ she added.
‘Protein will help repair muscle damage, so this is important too. Try brown rice cakes with banana and almond butter, eggs and smoked salmon, or a protein smoothie with blended cacao for muscle recovery.’