Nutritionist – Dietitian , MSc
Choosing pre- and post-training meals and snacks is extremely important if you want the best possible results in workout performance, but also in sustaining your body.
It is recommended that the average person who does a medium duration and intensity workout eats a snack rich in carbohydrates about one hour before starting the workout, so that they have enough energy. This way, they protect their muscular system, preventing muscle catabolism to produce energy.
Many people stress that meals need special preparation. In reality, though, one of the following is enough:
- A medium-sized fruit and a cereal bar (without added sugar)
- 2 rusks with jam (without added sugar)
- ½ glass of freshly squeezed juice and 10 nuts
- One fruit and sugar-free jelly
When exercising, you can keep yourself hydrated with mineral water or you may choose an isotonic drink in the event of heavy sweating.
After the end of the workout, apart from fluid replenishment, your body needs carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen in muscles, but also protein to repair any damage caused during contraction of muscle groups.
Some easy snacks you can have after exercising are:
- A boiled egg and two rusks
- A yoghurt/jelly dessert or sugar-free jelly and a glass of milk
- A sugar-free cereal bar and a tub of yoghurt or a glass of milk
- A chocolate drink without sugar (with sweetener) made with milk
- A milk-based dessert without sugar (e.g. custard with sweetener)
Over the last years, there’s been much talk about exercising on an empty stomach (fasted training). However, this is recommended only under certain conditions, as there is a high chance that the lack of energy will reduce the performance and overall training volume. There’s also the chance that the lack of energy in the body from lack of carbohydrates may lead to catabolism of muscle and not fat, accomplishing the opposite to the desired result. So, even if you are a morning person when it comes to exercising and cannot eat a full breakfast, eating a small snack, e.g. a sugar-free cereal bar or 2-3 small dried fruit pieces, is recommended, so the body can have enough energy and will not be forced to consume body protein.
In any case, your snack choices before and after exercising are very important. Try the various alternatives to see what suits you better and don’t forget that exercising without proper nutrition nearly never leads you to your target.