Eating, it's something that we all do. The vast majority of us really like it, we look forward to the next time we can get something tasty. But, what about eating while being healthy and fit? How does eating fit into a workout routine? Happily, these are simple to answer.
Food is fuel, our bodies need the calories in order to produce the energy our muscles need to propel ourselves through not just our day, but also our workout. I;m not talking about a full meal on the way into the gym. If you are anything like me that would be an awful idea. But, we all need to eat something before we workout AND we need to refuel, eat something, immediately after our workout.
Choosing the right food to eat before working out also means that you need to understand that different nutrients are broken down at different rates. Fat takes between 4 and 6 hours to be digested, protein takes 3 hours, and carbohydrates 2 hours. What we're seeing here is that you would do very well to have something like peanut butter and bananas at noon if you are hitting the workout at 3. This will allow the protein and carbs from your meal to be digested and ready for your body to use for you to power through your training.
After your workout your body is going to go into overdrive to repair all that muscular damage. Let's face it, exercising causes muscle fibers to break, this is trauma to the body, it's damage. Your body is going to work hard to repair that damage and to replenish the glycogen stores that you have just burnt through. So, take a shower and go get some quality protein and carbs within the first hour after your session.
The window of optimal effect is 15 minutes to one hour. Take that shower and then go fuel your recovery with something like your regular protein shake, some chicken and rice, yogurt and fruit, turkey with cheese and apples. Aim for foods that are high in protein and healthy carbohydrates. These foods will go into restoring your energy. Your body is still in a fat burning mode in order to repair that damage you just did. Oh, it would also be advisable to get some solid antioxidants into you, too, as these will help make your recovery more comfortable.
Protein and carbs a few hours before your workout and within the first hour afterwards will, according to research, serve you best.