I often get asked about pre/post workout food, what are the best things to have and> when. I am always honest and> advise that it is actually quite individual and> depends a lot on how your body deals with certain foods, individual preferences and> of course the exercise you are actually doing. However there are certain guidelines you can work with, without getting too technical and> so I thought I would outline these for you, and> offer some ideas for you to try.
Ideally you should be looking to eat around 2-4 hours before exercise, this allow your body time to digest the food, so you don’t feel too full or on the opposite side too hungry. Generally the closer you are to starting training the smaller the meal. The purpose of this meal is to fuel your workout and> boost concentration levels. Ideas for pre-workout meals include, Chicken with rice & salad, Porridge made with milk, Sand>wich/Bagel with chicken, fish or egg, pasta with chicken & tomato sauce.
If you only have an hour before your workout you would need to think more in terms of pre-workout snacks, so fruit, smoothies, energy bar, small bowl of porridge with milk. This serves the same purpose of the pre-workout meal, but needs to be easier to digest and> ensure you are not too full for your workout.
Eating much closer to exercising isn’t ideal but you do need to ensure you have something so if you only have 5/10 minutes before a workout look for something like raisins (just a small hand>ful) or a banana, always eat something prior to your workout!
A tough gym session depletes your glycogen stores and> damages your muscles so it is important to eat after exercise to replenish these stores so your muscles can repair ready for your next session! The best time to start this process is as soon as possible after you finish exercising, so post workout snacks are the perfect answer. You need a snack high in carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and> high in protein for repairing muscles. Protein shakes and> bars are popular due to their convenience – easy to transport and> consume on the go. However if you prefer to focus on more natural foods, ideas include rice cakes with peanut butter & banana, houmous & pitta bread, greek yoghurt & berries.
Ideally you should eat a bigger meal within around 2 hours of exercising, think carbohydrate rich foods like sweet potatoes brown rice, vegetables adding in some lean protein, lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs.
It is a good idea to experiment with the timings and> composition of your meals to try and> find what works best for you. I hope this helps with some ideas and> guidelines though!