It’s no secret that a huge part of achieving your fitness and wellness goals comes from how you choose to fuel your body. Nutrition matters! Whether you follow a strict diet or just try to eat clean, how fast you see results may be dependent on how much thought you put into your food.
So what are some of the best ways to spike your metabolism and maximize your workouts? Let’s take a look.
BEFORE YOU EXERCISE
Most people have a hard time working out with a really full stomach, so wellness experts recommend scaling your portions based on how soon you plan to workout. If you’re working out within 45 minutes of eating, nutritionists recommend snack-sized portions that are packed with a mix of protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Whole Grain Toast with Nut Butter & Banana – This may be the mack daddy of pre-workout snacks because it is fully loaded with all your macronutrients. Bananas are packed with natural sugars and potassium to help prevent muscle crampings, while peanut or almond butter has healthy fat. Finally the whole grain toast is a nutritionist-approved complex carb to steady your blood sugar and provide you with fuel for your sweat sesh.
Chia Pudding – If you have time to prep your pre-workout snacks ahead of time, combine 1.5 cups of your favorite milk or milk substitute (we love flax milk!) with 5 tablespoons of chia seeds and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Top with your favorite berries and nuts for a nutritious, power-filled option that will help you achieve your personal best. (Makes 4 servings.)
- Greek Yogurt with Fruit & Granola – If you’re pressed for time or want to pack your pre-workout snack in the morning, you can’t go wrong with a high quality Greek yogurt, topped with your favorite berries and a sprinkle of whole grain granola. Just keep an eye on the sugar content – some flavored yogurt and granola seems super healthy, but they can actually hide some nasty surprises in the ingredients list. Plain yogurt, whole berries and all natural granola will be your safest bet!
If you won’t be working out for several hours after you eat, then you may get more support from a larger meal. Choose lean proteins like chicken, green vegetables like broccoli and complex carbs like sweet potatoes to help keep you satiated until your workout, and to provide you with the right fuel for your fire!
AFTER YOU EXERCISE
After your workout, it’s important to refuel your body to help promote healthy muscle growth and restore your electrolyte balance. Don’t forget that water plays a crucial role in your recovery stage, so come prepared with a large, reusable water bottle that you can keep close to hand both during your workout and immediately following it. You’re also going to need protein to help repair and protect your hard working muscles, and carbs to help boost your energy stores. Here are some powerful post-workout snacks to try:
Whole Wheat Crackers & Nut Butter – If you’re headed back to the office or have a long drive home after the gym, a great way to refuel your body fast is to pack whole grain crackers and no-sugar-added nut butter in your bag. The combination of carbs and healthy fats will keep your blood sugar from tanking and the protein will help support your muscle tissue.
Probiotic Pumpkin Pie – If you have access to a kitchen right after your workout (another reason to consider some home workouts!), then this Probiotic Pumpkin Pie recipe is for you. In a dish, layer 4 ounces of plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of organic canned pumpkin, a tablespoon of chopped nuts, .5 teaspoon of pumpkin pie mix, and 1 teaspoon of turbinado sugar.
- Power Smoothie – If you have a hard time eating right after you exercise, but you still want to maximize the benefits of your workout with some post-exercise nutrition, a Power Smoothie is the answer. Simply blend your favorite fruit with plain Greek yogurt or your favorite milk option, some water, and some ice. For an extra boost of healthy fats, add a spoonful of peanut or almond butter.
Don’t forget, there are also great pre-packaged options available! Protein bars, jerky and pre-made smoothies are all available and can be viable options if you’re pressed for time. Just be careful to read the ingredients and avoid anything with too many sugars, preservatives, or chemicals.
MAKING A MENU
The most important thing about your nutrition is finding foods and solutions that work for you for the long-term. No short-term solutions are going to provide you with the lifelong results you’re working for, so it’s important to find food you like and a plan you can stick to – after all, you’re the MVP of your fitness game.
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