Last Updated on January 7, 2021
Top off your protein and glycogen stores with the right foods – pre- and post-workout.
Before you hit the ground running, fueling your body will be the foundation to any successful workout. It’s any lifter’s worst session when they hit the wall – glycogen stores depleted and muscles starved for nutrients. To be on top of your lifting game, you have to feed your body with the right foods both pre – and post-workout.
As usual, complex carbs, protein, and fat will be in your arsenal – just waiting for you to pull the trigger to work out. And getting creative with a post-workout meal will be in the cards, to push aside those boring protein shakes on occasion.
Before: Peanut Butter and Jelly
Can’t go wrong with a PB&J sandwich. The peanut butter will supply you with eight grams of protein, and just enough fat to help boost testosterone levels before a heavy lifting session. Simple sugars and complex carbs from the jelly and bread will provide you with a consistent amount of energy for the duration of your workout. Bonus: toss in a sliced banana for a boost of potassium—preventing any muscle cramps.
After: Salmon and Roasted vegetables
Post-workout, your body and muscles are starved for protein and nutrients. The lean protein in salmon will fuel your hard-trained muscles while the vegetables help to replenish your glycogen system.
Before: Protein Smoothies
A protein shake is always the go-to method for filling your tank, and it’s easy to throw together when you’re on the run. Consider tossing in some cayenne pepper to the mix, as it contains the compound capsaicin, which can increase energy levels and help burn fat.
After: Tuna Salad Sandwich
Loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, tuna can work to reduce any inflammation post-workout – giving your joints that extra cushioning it needs. Look to buy canned tuna in water instead of oil. The reason: water and oil don’t mix. So when you’re draining out the water-packed tuna, precious omega-3s won’t be lost.
The only time to toss back some junk food carbs is 15 to 30 minutes prior to your workout when you need that quick fix. Up to fifty grams of carbs get burned during a heavy lifting session, so keeping your glycogen levels topped off will enhance your performance and prevent fatigue. And unknown to many, junk food carbs can give you that pump because it creates an insulin spike. When those fast-digesting sugars get absorbed into the blood stream, insulin levels will increase —ultimately widening your blood vessels.
Cool fact: bodybuilders will eat candy before a competition to get that pump and look more vascular.
After: Chocolate Milk
It’s an old school recovery method that still works today. Chocolate milk has water, protein, and sugar – all of which your body needs post-workout. The bonus: a delicious, thirst-quenching drink now replaces any electrolytes that were lost while you were sweating.
Before: Fruit Salad With Quinoa and Avocado
The simple sugars from the fruit will give you a boost of energy while the quinoa will keep your insulin levels in check mid-workout. As for the avocado, it will feed your body with healthy fats for amped up t-levels, and prevent inflammation post-workout.
After: Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Buffalo wings and pizza – possibly the best combo ever created. But this pizza is high in protein, clocking in at 55 grams, and it only takes 15 minutes to make. Made with a whole-wheat pizza crust, this pizza will help regulate blood sugar levels because it contains 10 grams of fiber.