Getting a good night’s sleep, stretching, wearing the correct outfit—these are just a few things you must do before, during, and after working out. Most of them are simple enough, but it’s not the same with food. Eating recklessly will slow you down during workouts, while eating too little will lead to you having not enough energy.
You also have to worry about what you eat as you may choose the wrong meal that may result in a heavier workout that can sabotage your progress which you’ve been working hard on. The bad news is, not many people know which is good and which is not, but that’s why you’re here.
Before anything else, what specific nutrients should you look for from your workout snacks and drinks?
What does your body need during workouts?
A common rule among fitness junkies is that no matter how buff you are, you should always remember to refuel your body with water, whether the workout lasts for a couple of minutes or several hours. A small sip of water every half hour would do.
If you intend to take on a more casual workout routine, preparing yourself is enough. Eating a balanced diet and drinking water should be more than enough to get you going during workouts.
However, if your workout routine has a high intensity and is longer than usual, you have to consume specific kinds of food and beverages, but there are strict conditions. For example, you need to consume at least 100 calories every hour. If your metabolism is faster than usual, you can double this amount. The ideal snack or meal should:
- Have moderate amount of protein and carbs
- Be low in fat and fiber
- Contain Fluids
- Be tolerable for you
We have come up with the five best things to consume when working out. Let’s start with a beverage that’s quite popular among fitness junkies:
1. Sports Drinks
Water is often the ideal beverage for working out. However, it’s not always the case, especially if you’re working out for longer than an hour in extreme conditions. In such cases, you’ll need more than hydration—you need fluids that contain carbs.
Sports drinks are the ideal beverages. These don’t contain fat or fiber, providing your body with fluids, carbs, and, sometimes, sodium.
You should also look for products containing electrolytes. The ideal balance between these nutrients is 15 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sodium for every 8 ounces of sports drinks. Remember these numbers when looking for sports drinks in your local market.
2. Protein Shake
Another beverage that you should look into is a protein shake. Although sports drinks and protein shakes both refill your body with fluids, they have different purposes.
A sports drink provides carbs, while a protein shake during workout provides protein. However, take note that drinking too much isn’t a good idea. Ideally, you’d want, at most, 20 grams of protein for your body, and any more than that can lead to side effects.
On that note, you can also drink chocolate milk which usually consists of 4 grams of protein for every glass. Protein can help muscles repair themselves, which is extremely important for vigorous workout routines.
Watermelon is known for its water content, with about 92% of it being water. Hence, consuming watermelons is an excellent way to hydrate yourself. But, the main reason it’s one of the best things to eat is because of its nutritional value.
Aside from being a great source of fluids, watermelons also provide Vitamins A and C which reduce muscle inflammation. On top of that, watermelons also contain magnesium and potassium, both of which are crucial for muscle regulation and contraction.
Put merely, watermelons are rich in nutrients that play a significant role in muscle development. Now that we’ve dealt with fluids, it’s time to proceed with the snacks.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Regular potatoes contain fiber which is known for having a vital role in workouts. However, sweet potatoes have as much as three times the amount of fiber, so it’s a good idea to eat sweet potatoes as it provides more fiber and fewer carbohydrates. However, make sure you eat only a few of these as too much fiber may lead to gastrointestinal issues such as stomach aches and diarrhea.
Another good source of fiber is bananas. They contain a moderate amount of carbs, magnesium, Vitamin C, and potassium.
The best part about consuming bananas is that it only takes a moment to finish them. Thus, it’s a perfect choice when working out. However, make sure you only pick out the ripe ones.
Green ones, or the unripe bananas, tend to contain sugar that’s not easy to digest, hindering your workout routine. You should also avoid those that aren’t entirely yellow, just to be sure.
What to Avoid When Working Out
If there are things you should consume during workouts, there are also those that you should avoid. Here’s a list of things you should avoid and why:
- Flaxseed: Although it’s rich in fiber, there’s a tendency of bloating or being gassy when taking too much, which is a big no-no when working out. The same goes for other kinds of fiber-rich food.
- Eggs: Yes, in spite of seeing many people including eggs into their routines, they’re actually bad when working out. This is mainly because eggs are difficult to digest, so your workouts will be heavier if you overeat. However, eggs are still a great post-workout snack.
- Spicy Food: Normally, spicy snacks and beverages tend to burn calories, but that doesn’t apply when working out. Instead, they can cause stomach pain.
- Fast Food: Naturally, you shouldn’t eat junk food before or even after working out. The same goes for fast food, especially as these contain massive amounts of fats which can hamper your workout routine.
Food that you thought were beneficial for workouts can actually become a hindrance when working out. This just goes to show that knowledge can take you far.
There are things that you should consume, and there are those that you should avoid. Either way, it’s essential to be mindful of what you eat, even if you’re not working out. Perhaps that’s the reason self-discipline and fitness go hand-in-hand. It might be difficult, but great things are not easy to achieve. Besides, the rewards in the end should be more than worth it.