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What to Eat Before & After Strength Training

Updated on July 19, 2017

There is no one-size-fits-all exercise meal plan. What you eat before and after strength training strongly influences how much fat you burn during your workout. Food intake should be designed according to the intensity, length and type of workout you plan to do.

PRE-WORKOUT

Contrary to popular opinion, food and performance drinks high in carbohydrates are not the best energy source for most exercise. Carb intake not only raises blood sugar and insulin levels, but also inhibits fat-burning. Additionally, it can adversely affect motivation and energy level.

The most favorable pre-workout energy source is PROTEIN. It helps preserve the amino acids utilized during exercise. The best part, though? Studies prove that protein enables a greater use of stored fat for fuel while exercising!

A protein-based meal takes longer to digest than a carb-based meal. Depending on what and how much you've eaten, allow 1-3 hours between eating and exercising. If your pre-workout time is limited, try these easier-to-digest foods:

  • Egg
  • Yogurt
  • Almond butter
  • Cottage cheese

POST-WORKOUT

Most people invest the time and energy to strength train for health and fitness benefits. So, what's the best food to eat after a workout to reap those rewards?

Muscles are "hungry" after exercise. The first hour after a workout is when muscles soak up nutrients most effectively. Choosing what you eat after a workout is just as important as what you eat before.

Protein perpetuates the fat-burning momentum gained during the workout and replenishes amino acid supplies. In addition, eating good quality fats and oils, fresh fruit and colorful vegetables are an effective tool to lose excess body fat.

IDEAS:

  • Scrambled eggs with vegetables
  • Baked chicken breast
  • Leafy green salad with tuna and avocado
  • Broiled salmon
  • Apple with almond butter

If you prefer shakes, DON’T fall for the expensive post-workout supplement formulation ads you see everywhere! Make your own using natural ingredients such as Greek yogurt, almond butter, bananas, and berries.

Keep in mind that everyone has unique needs and food preferences. An exercise eating plan is highly individualized. Finding what works for you is what's most important. And, don't forget to drink plenty of water!

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