Fit Foodie: What to Eat Before & After a Workout
Calories burned are calories earned, right? Cooking Light and Health magazines are gearing up for the Fit Foodie 5K Race, a fun-filled weekend celebration of food and fitness. A portion of the event’s profits will go to the City of Hope, a research and treatment center for life-threatening diseases. The next race in this series takes place in Austin, Texas, on September 13.
We’ve created the Fit Foodie blog series to fuel you through your next big race or tough workout, whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting a new routine. As a college runner and current road racer, I know that making smart food choices can make or break a successful workout or race. As a college freshman, I once consumed a gigantic slice of chocolate cake less than an hour before a very tough track workout. You can probably guess how well that went. Since then, I've picked up a few pointers:
When it comes to pre-workout noshing, here is my rule of thumb: stick to what you know. Use your common sense and avoid any foods that might upset your stomach. I recommend carbohydrate-rich, easily-digestible foods such as bananas, peanut butter, and oatmeal. The goal is to build up your body’s glycogen stores, which will later be converted to glucose that fuels your body during exercise. Be wary of denser, higher fiber foods such as whole-wheat bagels, as they might upset your stomach if you consume them too close to your workout. Before morning road races, I eat about two hours beforehand and I keep it simple—peanut butter on toast and a banana.
Energy bars are fine, but make sure to read the nutrition label—watch out for sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup or sucralose, as well as excess saturated fats. (Our Best Energy Bars article gives additional information.)
After an exhausting workout, your body needs protein to aid in muscle recovery and carbohydrates to replenish lost glycogen stores. Aim to replace carbs and protein at the same time, ideally within a 30-minute window of finishing the workout. Peanut butter, eggs, carb-rich fruits such as blueberries and bananas, lean proteins such as chicken or turkey, or Greek yogurt are all great choices. My favorite after a long morning run? A veggie and feta cheese-stuffed omelet with a side of blueberries and sliced bananas.
If you prefer to drink your way to recovery, pour a glass of chocolate milk or make a fruit smoothie, such as our Peanut Butter, Banana, and Flax Smoothies or Citrusy Banana-Oat Smoothies. (Also, a pint of beer every now and then won’t hurt you either, but you didn’t hear that from me!)