This is a bit of a Fitness Friday post mixed in with a Tasty Tuesday post since I am still going to be talking about part of my fitness routine but specifically I’m going to be talking about the foods I eat before and after.
I used to be the kind of person who would go to the gym on en empty stomach, thinking it would make me work harder. I learned very quickly that this was not the case. I was tired quicker and the hunger pain made me ache to leave. I cut my workouts short and I didn’t work as hard throughout my workout so while I may have been burning fat, I wasn’t optimizing my workout.
I am not going to the gym anymore but I am constantly working out and I’m also making sure that I am eating before and after my workouts. I generally like to work out in the morning just after breakfast. I will eat my meal, give myself 30 minutes or so to digest and them jump into a workout. My workouts generally last 30-40 minutes so even after I’ve hit the shower I’m not really ready to have lunch just yet but I always make sure I have a post-workout snack.
After taking some time to read some different articles from Men’s Fitness, Fitness Magazine, and Pop Sugar Fitness, I have crafted some basic go-to foods for my pre and post workout eating that seem to fulfil most suggestions out there.
Here are some of the things I use to fuel up before a work-out:
Bananas and Oats – I’ve started making homemade granola bars from bananas and oats in order to reduce the amount of money we’re spending on snack foods and because they’re a little healthier than any of your boxed variety granolas. My recipe for these is at the bottom of this post in case anyone is interested in giving them a go!
1 Slice of Toast with Peanut Butter – My go to for the most part. While I know I should be swapping out my white bread for wholegrain bread I just haven’t got there yet. Eating only one slice stops me from consuming too many carbs that I’m bloated and sluggish but gives me the boost I need to remain full throughout my workout and the peanut butter fulfills the protein suggestions I found on most fitness blogs.
Fruit and Yogurt – We generally have either Source or Activia in our fridge and we always have an abundance of fruit. Bananas are a good one to put with this because you get the carbs and the potassium from the bananas and some protein from the yogurt.
Cottage Cheese and Fruit – I am not always in the mood for yogurt so cottage cheese is a great substitute when I want something a little more savoury. 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with a small bowl of fruit is enough for me to kickstart a great workout.
And here are some foods I eat to refuel after the gruelling 30-40 minutes of my workout are over:
Milk – Milk is my number one post workout food. There are studies that suggest that drinking milk after a workout promotes muscle gains and strength. I also find it incredibly helpful because I’m not eating a full meal afterwards and milk is just filling enough to push me through until lunch time. Chocolate milk is also apparently very good to drink after a workout but I simply cannot be trusted to drink only an appropriate amount if it’s in my fridge.
Tuna Salad on a piece of Toast or with Crackers – If my workout is leaving me incredibly hungry and drained this is the choice I will usually go to. I love tuna and it’s an excellent source of protein (plus it’s always cheap). A little bit of light mayonnaise goes a long way and a single piece of toast or some calorie / carb friendly crackers make it the perfect bridge between snack and a full meal.
Hard Boiled Eggs – I am not a huge fan of fried or scrambled eggs. I will eat them if I have to but for the most part I steer away from them which is fine because hard boiled eggs are better for you anyway. I’ll usually have one or two of these with some fruit.
Fruit and Cottage Cheese or Yogurt – these are equally as good after a workout as it is before in my opinion. I try to pick a fruit that I find filling like bananas or apples as opposed to berries which are much more of a snack to me.
As you can see, all these foods are pretty quick and easy grab and go foods. I have a feeling this is going to become increasingly important now that I’ll be working and I won’t have as much time at home.
Finally, as promised, here is the recipe for my banana oat granola bars!
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 cup of oats
- 1 tablespoon of Peanut Butter / Almond Butter (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mash ripe bananas until almost smooth.
- Mix in oats and cinnamon (and peanut butter or almond butter if you want a protein kick).
- Lay out the mixture on the baking sheet as evenly as possible. Another option is to fill muffin liners instead (Matt prefers them this way, I am just too lazy to do it sometimes).
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool. Once cooled cut them into bars!
There you have it! Don’t forget to fuel up and refuel before and after your workout, and don’t get trapped by the myth that working out on an empty stomach will burn more fat, it’s just not true! I hope this post gave some of you a few ideas and I’d love to hear what your workout foods are in the comments below!