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How To Optimize Your Pre and Post-Workout Meals

Nourishing your body with the appropriate nutrients before and after your chosen workout will make a significant difference in your energy levels as you exercise.

Written By

Courtney Cornwall, Outrun Gravity


Your nutritional choices can significantly impact your energy levels while you exercise. Have you ever noticed that sometimes during a workout you feel incredible and energetic, while other times it is difficult to make it through?

Nutrition is pivotal to the success of your workouts, and here is our guide to feeling great while you exercise by optimizing your pre and post-workout meals.

Cardio Workout Vs. Strength Training – It Matters!

Cardio workouts can sometimes be performed on an empty stomach, whereas with strength training, you must focus on eating protein to help strengthen your muscles and fuel you through your workout. Your body has different needs when doing cardio exercises compared to strength training, so by eating accordingly, you can feel energetic no matter what type of exercise you try.

Pre-Workout Meals

– Cardio Workout

You may prefer not to eat before a cardio workout, and due to the nature of this exercise form utilizing stored carbohydrate sources to fuel the muscles, this might work perfectly for you. If you do want to eat before cardio, choose something light, low-fat, and low in sugar. Drinking a high-carb, moderate-protein smoothie at least an hour prior to exercising is the perfect option for the energy boost to help you feel great during your cardio workout.

– Strength Training

30 minutes before a strength workout is an excellent time to have a small snack with protein or carbohydrates to give you the energy to perform high-impact compound movements. Your body can crash during strength training without a pre-workout meal, so we recommend eating foods with electrolytes, such as a banana, mango, or smoothie. If you can, elect for natural nutrients over synthetic pre-workout powders for the optimal effect on your body and energy levels.

Post-Workout Meals

– Cardio Workout

It is important to replenish your body with nutrients following a cardio workout, especially during the first 30-minutes post-workout known as the “metabolic window.” The best method is to incorporate a high carb or protein snack after a cardio workout, such as a handful of nuts or a loaded salad, to allow yourself to refuel and reduce muscle soreness.

– Strength Training

Following a strength training workout, protein is the key macronutrient to help you recover and grow your muscles. During strength training exercises our muscles are worked extensively, so by integrating a post-workout meal that is high in quality protein, you can achieve the results you desire in your rigorous workout regime. Instead of electing for a post-workout protein shake, we recommend choosing real food: whether it is a poke bowl with tuna or a fresh turkey sandwich, your body can tell the difference when you replenish with amino acid supplies from natural foods.

Nourishing your body with the appropriate nutrients before and after your chosen workout will make a significant difference in your energy levels as you exercise. Although exercising is a strenuous activity, when you fuel your body mindfully, you will be amazed at the impact on your motivation as you continue throughout your day. For more tips to optimize your nutrition and exercise routines, check out Outrun Gravity to connect with our coaches.



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