Fitness

What you should REALLY eat and drink before and after a workout

Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert recommends eating some yoghurt with fruit and berries if you have less than an hour before exercising, or an egg on toast, or porridge with fruit (pictured) if you have longer
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Exercise always works up an appetite, and what you fuel your body with can be the difference between having a sugar crash and feeling strong after a workout.

A new study published by the Nutrition Society has revealed that combining a good diet with exercise is better for you than only eating well without working out, or only going to the gym without changing your diet. 

Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, the author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way To Eat Well, agrees, and she has now exclusively shared with FEMAIL the best foods and drinks to consume before and after a workout.

She said that fuelling your body with the right nutrients will give you more energy and the strength to perform better at the gym, as well as help you to recover faster from muscle soreness.

And if you thought that carbs are the enemy, Rhiannon added that they are actually key to recovering after exercise. 

PRE-WORKOUT: FUEL FITNESS WISELY  

Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert recommends eating some yoghurt with fruit and berries if you have less than an hour before exercising, or an egg on toast, or porridge with fruit (pictured) if you have longer

Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert recommends eating some yoghurt with fruit and berries if you have less than an hour before exercising, or an egg on toast, or porridge with fruit (pictured) if you have longer

Pre-workout meals can be consumed between two to three hours, and up to 30 minutes, before workouts. 

However, choose foods that are easy to digest. Carbs help maximise glycogen stores for high-intensity exercise, while fat helps fuel your body for longer, less intense workouts. 

Protein may also be included as it improves muscle protein synthesis and helps with recovery. 

For example, eat an egg on toast with some avocado two to three hours before exercising but some Greek yoghurt with fruit is better if you have less than an hour.

POST WORKOUT: DON’T FORGET TO REFUEL

Rhiannon says it's important to hydrate after a workout with water and advises against drinking sports drinks unless you are an athlete as they can be full of sugar

Rhiannon says it's important to hydrate after a workout with water and advises against drinking sports drinks unless you are an athlete as they can be full of sugar

Rhiannon says it’s important to hydrate after a workout with water and advises against drinking sports drinks unless you are an athlete as they can be full of sugar

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair torn muscle tissue. 

Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster.

POST WORKOUT: REPLENISH GLYCOGEN STORES 

When you’re working out, your muscles will use up their glycogen stores for fuel so it is important to eat some carbohydrates after your workout, especially if you participate in endurance sports as they cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training. 

It is for this reason that runners and swimmers often need to consume more carbs than a weightlifter. You will start to feel lower in energy and your output diminishes as you run low on glycogen stores.

POST WORKOUT: PROTEIN IS ESSENTIAL

Rhiannon advises exercise junkies to avoid protein bars as a rule of thumb as they are often packed with sugar and other 'extras' that don't do any good for your body

Rhiannon advises exercise junkies to avoid protein bars as a rule of thumb as they are often packed with sugar and other 'extras' that don't do any good for your body

Rhiannon advises exercise junkies to avoid protein bars as a rule of thumb as they are often packed with sugar and other ‘extras’ that don’t do any good for your body

Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and build new muscle tissue. 

I would suggest eating your main meal if possible within an hour post-workout, particularly if you have done an intense workout.

POST WORKOUT: BE WARY OF PROTEIN BARS 

Lots of protein bars on the market are not as healthy as people assume. Yes they are high in protein but they are also full of sugar and other extras that your body doesn’t need.

POST WORKOUT: HYDRATE WITH WATER, NOT SPORTS DRINKS 

We all know we need to stay hydrated, especially when exercising. Good hydration has been shown to sustain and even enhance performance, while dehydration has been linked to significant decreases in performance.

Sports drinks often contain added sugars and artifice sweeteners but they do have a place for some, especially athletes. 

Adding a pinch of salt to water, has been suggested to help rehydrate runners.


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