Top 5 Pre- & Post- Workout Snacks!

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Recently at work, I’ve had a lot of patients that are doing exceedingly well.  Losing weight.  Getting active.  Eating healthy.  It actually makes me really proud!  I’m so excited for them!  One of my favorite things to hear from them is how they are beginning to enjoy exercise…that it’s easier for them and they are finding activities that are fun and healthy.  Some are starting 5 k races.  Others have been getting their groove on with zumba classes.  And some have even gone above and beyond and are doing power lifting, running marathons and playing full on 3 hr tennis matches!  And after weight loss surgery – this is amazing and wonderful! celerypb

A couple of these rock start patients showed up this week for their regular check ups and all were asking the same thing:  Should I eat before my work out?  How about after?  What types of foods should I eat?  How long before or after a workout can I eat?  I’m lifting weights, should I increase my protein intake?  What types of carbs should I be eating?  There is a TON to think about when you’re considering your diet AND your exercise program.  And my patients pointed out some very important issues.

nuts As a somewhat regular exerciser in addition to having a Mom who is a crazy marathon running, body pumping, in way better shape than me exerciser, I’ve learned a few tips on the best nutrition to go with moderate to vigorous physical activity (oh and ya know…the 4 yrs of nutrition education).   Plus, I’ve included my top 5 favorite pre and post workout snacks down below – check ’em out!

  • The pre-workout snack.  This small meal can aid vigorous exercisers by keeping them satisfied during their workout and help maintain optimal levels of glucose in the blood (your body’s preferred form of fuel).  This is especially important for those people exercising in the morning before breakfast and are going to be working out for at least 60 minutes of continuous cardiovascular activity.  However, exercising on a full stomach (maybe you had a BIG snack) may cause indigestion, nausea and vomiting.  So make sure the snack is small and doesn’t fill you up.
  • During your work out.  If you plan on working out for more than 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, you should most likely refuel during your work out.  Long runs, bike rides, a day of rowing, are all examples of times where it’d be important to refuel.  Consuming some carbohydrates will help ensure the availability of sufficient energy during the end stages of your exercise routine.
  • The post-workout snack.  This is probably one of the most critical parts of exercise nutrition.  You have a somewhat limited window after physical activity to replenish your glycogen (your body’s storage form of energy – depleted during exercise)  stores effectively.  Ideally you should consume some protein AND carbohydrates within 60 minutes of completing your workout.  You need the protein to help repair muscles and the carbohydrates to help build back your glycogen stores.
  • A note on protein.  There’s a giant myth out there that those who exercise and lift weights need to consume a lot more protein to build muscle.  Yea…no.  Unless you’re an olympic athlete, or feel the need to look like Thor, you don’t need extra protein.  Too much protein (too much of anything) gets converted to fat or excreted in the urine.  High amounts of protein that is excreted is very hard on the kidneys – can cause kidney stones.  How much protein do you need?  Here’s a simple formula:  0.8 grams protein x every kg body weight.

chocmilk Top 5 Pre-Workout Snacks (mostly carbs):

  1. Fresh fruit – banana, orange, or apples.
  2. Small protein bar like Kind bars
  3. 1/3 c low-fat fruit granola
  4. 10 whole wheat crackers
  5. 3/4 cup cereal (not high fiber, but not cocoa puffs either!)

Top 5 Post-Workout Snacks (a combination of carbs and protein):

  1. Low-fat chocolate milk (1 cup)
  2. 1/2 small whole wheat bagel with peanut butter
  3. Apple with low fat cheese slices
  4. Protein bar or drink, 8 oz
  5. Hardboiled egg and 1 slice whole wheat toast

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