To make the most out of your workouts, it’s important that you fuel and refuel right. We asked registered dietitians and sports nutrition experts to share some of their pre- and post-workout meal favorites to help give you the energy you need to get the results that you want.
Pre-Workout: Banana, non-fat milk and natural peanut butter
Whether you like to get in your cardio first thing in the morning or opt for some mid-day activity during your lunch break, having an option that’s quick and easy is a must. But there’s even more reasons why ACE-certified Personal Trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach Julie Burks, MS, RD, CSSD, recommends this particular trio an hour or so before exercise. “The reason I like this for a pre-workout meal is because it contains mostly slow-burning carbs and some protein to sustain blood sugar levels throughout my workout. I also get a punch of potassium with the banana and some fluid and calcium with the milk, which all help prevent cramping,” says the Semper Fit Dietitian. [Plus, research has shown that calcium may also help with fat metabolism].
Post-Workout: Greek yogurt smoothie (Greek vanilla yogurt + nonfat or soy milk + blueberry juice + frozen berries + banana + ground flax seed + vanilla extract + cinnamon)
As if Greek yogurt wasn’t delicious (and nutritious) enough by itself, this smoothie takes things to a whole new level. “The yogurt and milk add some protein, including whey protein, for muscle recovery while also containing carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores,” Burks says. She chooses to use a variety of antioxidant-packed berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to aid in the clean-up of waste products (and yes, the frozen kind do the trick). Because this combo is liquid, it also helps replenish sweat loss. “Most of all, it tastes great!” she adds.
Pre-Workout: Eggs-n-oats scramble (4 eggs (1 yolk) + fresh spinach leaves + ½ cup rolled oats, scrambled. Top with 2 tablespoons of salsa)
Want to sport a more toned physique this swimsuit season? Strength training is key! Tiffani Bachus, RD, Creator of Total Balanced Body, LLC and Cover Model for Oxygen magazine’s Fat Loss Issue, shares her secrets to fueling the workouts that help to get her in camera-ready shape. “I just spent the last few months in a ‘building’ phase, in which my goal was to increase lean muscle mass. To give my body enough energy to power through a hard core workout, I opt for a pre-weight training meal that consists of a combo of protein, carbohydrates and a little fat,” says Bachus, who held the title of Fitness America World Champion in 2009. Timing is everything, so enjoy this tasty scramble about 1-2 hours before hitting the gym.
Post-Workout: 1 slice millet bread, ½ cup cottage cheese and ½ cup blueberries
“During an intense weight-training workout in which your body is in a catabolic state (breaking down muscle fibers) your goal is to quickly enter an anabolic state by providing the body with the proper nutrients in order to start building new muscle,” says Bachus. Fast-digesting carbohydrates along with protein are important for refueling, so enjoy this post-workout snack 30 minutes after your strength training session.
Pre-Workout: High-energy combo (uncooked oatmeal + a mixture of dry cereals (such as Grapenuts & shredded wheat; or bran flakes + granola) + slivered almonds + chopped dates + low-fat milk)
“This is my favorite heart-healthy, high-energy breakfast that gets me through an active morning,” says Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, author of the best-selling sports nutrition reference “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.” Not only does she practice what she preaches when fueling her own workouts, such as a long run to train for a marathon, but she also shares this information with her clients, including Olympic athletes and members of the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics. If you want to fuel your weekend workouts like a pro, give this high-energy combo a try!
Post-Workout: Banana-chocolate “milkshake” (1/2 frozen ripe banana + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1 cup skim milk + 10 ice cubes + handful of spinach)
This is definitely not your average milkshake, though it is equally delicious! Kristen Carlucci, registered dietician and nutrition expert for Pitney Bowes Inc., recommends this tasty liquid treat about 30-60 minutes after a great weekend workout because it’s not only easily digestible, but it also allows you to change up the ingredients depending on what flavors you’re craving. Plus you can sneak in a ton of added nutrients and antioxidants, like with the spinach! “I always try to incorporate fast-acting carbohydrates and protein in my post-workout snack, as protein is critical for muscle repair and growth and the carbohydrates are needed to deliver that protein to the muscle.”
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYTContributor
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and Oprah.com. She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12. Full Bio Jessica Matthews »
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