This might be one of my most frequently asked questions that I get as a trainer and nutrition coach: “What should I eat before and after working out?”

While there is no one magical meal or snack before or after your workouts that instantly turns you into Wonder Woman, there are core nutritional nuggets of information you can use to help maximize the hard work you put into those squats, hills, and asanas.

Do keep in mind that one size does not fit all and this is not medical advice. Some people feel sick if they eat before a 6am workout, and some feel sick if they don’t, and some people have medical conditions that cause their metabolism to function differently for recovery and energy production. Optimal nutrition choices will also vary, depending on if your goals are focused on weight loss, endurance, fat loss, muscle gain, etc. A general rule of thumb is that pre-workout nutrition is more about performance, and post-workout nutrition is more about progress and recovery.

Protein = your savings account

Protein breaks down into amino acids that your body uses to build healthy new muscle tissue and to transport and store nutrients in your body. Protein also requires more energy than fat or carbs to break down into amino acids (20-30% of total caloric content of that food!) to be used. It’s good to have protein available so that your body can manage the muscle damage you are creating during your workout for faster recovery and better performance.

Fats = your retirement account

Stored fat in your organs is needed for longer duration exercises (think long-distance running, cycling, etc). Your body needs more energy and time to break down fat stores for energy use than protein and carbohydrates, but they are the best source of energy for longer duration, lower-intensity exercise.

Hydration / Fluid Balance

While one of the most overlooked factors, hydration is key to keeping your energy up during your workouts and for optimal recovery afterwards. Did you know that as little as 1-2% reduction in bodyweight from water loss leads to decreasing performance during activity? Especially if you’re doing a morning workout, remember that you just spent all those sleeping hours without any water intake, so make sure to rehydrate prior to exercise. Consuming electrolytes such as sodium and potassium will also help maintain fluid balance, therefore performance, during exercise and for recovery afterward.

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