Crush Your Fitness Goals With These Workout Nutrition Tips

If you’ve ever felt dizzy or sluggish mid-workout, the reason is most likely improper nutrition. As busy collegiettes, we already have to squeeze gym time into our day, so it’s important to ensure that you are getting the results you desire from your workouts.

Whether you’re a regular at the gym or new to working out, proper nutrition is crucial to getting the most out of your workouts and building and repairing muscle afterward. Depending on what your workout plan is for the day, you need to tailor your pre- and post-workout nutrition to the type and duration of your activity. First, let’s talk about nutrition basics.

Protein: Essential for building and repairing muscle, cartilage and bone. It’s a macronutrient, meaning your body requires significant quantities of it. Quality sources include chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, whey protein and plain yogurt.

Carbohydrates: Necessary to fuel the body with glucose, which gives you that extra push through your workouts and helps you think more clearly while studying. The type of carbs you consume is important. Opt for complex carbohydrates, which are harder for your body to break down (read: don’t turn into sugar as quickly). These include fruits, vegetables, beans and healthy whole grains.

Fats: Critical to include in a balanced diet for your muscles to perform well and for your skin and hair to look good! Your body uses fats in long-duration exercises, such as distance running. Healthy fats come from vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish. Plus, adding a handful of nuts or a tablespoon of peanut butter to your snacks helps keep you feeling fuller, longer.

Weights Days:

Pre-Workout

If you have ever stopped midway through leg day because you feel dizzy or nauseous, the main cause was probably either a lack of food or eating too much right before. But when looking to power through a difficult workout in the weight room, don’t head to the gym with an empty stomach. If you want to build muscle, you need the extra fuel to power through those added reps.

According to Bodybuilding.com, it’s best to have a meal with complex carbohydrates one to two hours before a workout – your body takes time to burn through these carbs, so they will fuel you throughout the duration of your workout. Experts also recommend having fruit around thirty minutes before your actual workout time to provide you with a quick burst of energy.

Meals to include:

  • Oatmeal with berries and nuts
  • Whole grain pasta with veggies and chicken
  • Omelet with a piece of toast
  • Plain Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts

Tight on time? Opt for carbs that will digest quickly and won’t leave you feeling sluggish like a granola bar, a piece of fruit, trail mix or a smoothie with whey protein.

Courtesy: Cooktoria

Post-Workout

You must eat after a workout if it lasts thirty minutes or longer. Because your muscle fibers experience micro-tears as a result of exercise, it’s time to begin repairing them with protein and carbs. If you’re short on time and won’t have time to eat a real meal within the hour, bring a shaker bottle with a scoop of whey protein with you to the gym and simply mix it with water. Whey protein is designed to reach your muscles quickly and begin damage control right away. However, if you’re heading home to cook, the best meal includes a mix of complex carbohydrates and protein.

Great meals to try:

  • Fish, veggies and brown rice
  • Ground turkey, whole grain pasta and veggies
  • Chicken, veggies and a sweet potato

Cardio Days

Depending on the duration of your cardio workouts and the time of day, you may or may not need a pre-workout meal. For example, studies have shown that fasted cardio first thing in the morning tends to use fat as fuel, but also has the potential to break down muscle too, depending on how long or far you go. The conclusion? If it works for your schedule to do cardio first-thing on an empty stomach, great. If not, try for a small protein shake or fruit with nut butter to sustain you through your workout, especially if your goal is to build muscle. As for post-workout meals, your body uses a large amount of glucose during cardio-heavy workouts, so you will need to refuel it with healthy carbs