Did you know that what you should eat before a quick run is totally different to if you’re heading for a high-intensity muay thai session? From chocolate milk for recovery to oatmeal for energy, we break it down for you.
These are exercises like running, swimming or cycling.
Before: If you’re heading out for a quick 20 to 30-minute run, there’s actually no need to eat as your body will only get round to burning stored calories. If you’re working out for an hour or more, have some high glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates to get sugar into your body quickly, says Darren Blakeley, general manager at fitness studio UFIT. Eat a banana or a handful of grapes half an hour before you start.
After: After you’re done catching your breath, the most important thing is to hydrate yourself. After that, a mixed fruit platter will give you the healthy carbohydrates you need to replenish your energy, says Darren. Chocolate milk has also been found to be a good cardio recovery drink as it has the ideal ratio of carbohydrates to proteins. The sodium, magnesium and potassium in milk helps to repair muscles and prevent cramps too.
This means your gym days, when you’re doing some squats, sit-ups, lifting some kettle bells etc.
Before: Even though strength training is not cardio-intensive, you are still expending energy, says Darren. Make sure you have adequate carbohydrates about 30-minutes to an hour before you start, depending on how quickly you digest food. Some oatmeal with milk and fruits would be a good idea – a variation of that is to top low-fat yoghurt with some fruit and trail mix. You can also blend that into a smoothie.
After: Recover with lean, quality protein after, so have a salad with salmon or chicken. Lay off the thick sauces and use dressing like olive oil and lemon juice instead. Try to eat within an hour after your work out as your body will absorb the food best then.
Think heart-pumping sweat-fests like muay thai training or a high-intensity circuit – which can be done with the same moves and equipment you use in strength training, the difference being how hard and fast you go.
Before: Because you’ll be exerting a lot of energy in these workouts, a good mix of carbohydrates and protein is important. Slap some peanut butter on a piece of wholemeal toast and add some sliced bananas for a perfect pre-workout dish. You can also have some brown rice with vegetables and meat, says Darren. “It’s important that you eat two hours before, so the food is fully digested by the time you start” he adds.
After: Coconut water is all the rage as a recovery drink for when you’ve tormented your body with a high-intensity session. It hydrates better than water and is chockfull of electrolytes to help with muscle recovery and prevention of cramps. Pair that with a lean protein dish with less carbohydrates, like a chicken salad. But if you’re someone who exercises this hard regularly (about three to four times a week), then it’s important to recover with more carbohydrates – think brown rice, brown pasta or even sweet potato, advises Darren.