High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become hugely popular thanks to real results in shorter periods of time and extensive benefits. With busy schedules the norm, it’s no wonder so many clients and potential clients are now seeking out these kinds of workouts.
HIIT, which involves repeated sessions of relatively brief, intermittent exercise, usually performed at very high intensity, can easily be modified for various client needs and fitness levels. When combined with an expert nutrition program, personalized HIIT programs can elicit serious results and health benefits, including:
- Improved blood pressure and cardiovascular health
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Improved body composition
Whether you’re adding HIIT to your own personal fitness program or ramping up client results and health benefits with this style of training, it’s important to understand the nutritional needs to support it from start to finish. While nutritional needs do vary by individual and training program, these nutrition plans and meal ideas for pre- and post-workout nutrition can help.
General Nutrition to Support a H.I.I.T. Program
To get the most out of any fitness program, clients should follow a healthy meal plan in general. Effective and well-rounded nutrition programs are based on a variety of healthful ingredients such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. The best nutrition plans provide adequate calories and macronutrients such as carbohydrates to fuel the body and provide energy stores for workouts. Adequate water is also a must to ensure complete hydration during workouts.
Pre-workout Nutrition for HIIT
Due to the intensity of these workouts, it’s vital to follow a healthy nutrition plan with adequate nutrition in the days and hours leading up to a workout. Plan on a moderate- to high-carbohydrate meal that also includes protein approximately three to four hours before the HIIT workout, and then another high-carbohydrate snack within an hour after the workout. Good options for a pre-workout meal include:
- Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and banana
- Non-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit
- Dried fruit and almonds
Post-workout Nutrition for HIIT
The biggest nutritional concern post-workout is replacing energy stores (glycogen) and repairing muscles that have been broken down during the intense workout. Again, a combination of carbohydrates and protein has been shown to be most effective. Research shows that a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates-to-protein within 30 minutes of completing a HIIT workout is best for replacing energy stores in preparation for the next high-intensity workout. Suggestions for post-workout nutrition are similar to pre-workout meals and include:
- Whole-grain cereal with fruit and soy milk
- Whole-wheat crackers with fruit and cheese
- Hummus and pita bread
The best pre- and post-workout nutrition boosts energy and results—and client motivation. Help clients to achieve the results they demand while you improve client retention with an effective nutrition program for high-intensity interval training that follows along with established guidelines. If clients need a specific meal plan make sure they are working with an appropriately credentialed professional to meet their personalized nutritional needs.
Gibala, M.J. (2007). High-intensity interval training: New insights. Gatorade Sports Science Institute Sports Science Exchange, 20, 2.