Want to make the most of your workout? Fuel up with the right foods. “What you eat and drink can affect how you feel and how quickly you recover,” says Sonya Angelone, a San Francisco–based registered dietitian who works with athletes. Here’s her advice on what to have before, during and after exercise.
Before: A pre-workout snack provides energy. Pair carbohydrates with some protein. Good options: kefir with blueberries, a fruit-and-yogurt smoothie or half a peanut butter sandwich. Steer clear of foods high in fiber and fat. They take longer to digest, which can lead to stomach problems during exercise.
Have it an hour or two beforehand. Eating too much too close to your workout causes your body to reroute blood from muscles to the stomach, says Angelone. This may make you feel tired faster. And always drink a cup of water about 30 minutes before starting.
During: Take a water bottle and sip from it regularly. One study found that even a small dip in hydration can lead to fatigue. If you’re exercising for less than an hour, you’ll only need water, but if you’re doing a longer, high-intensity workout, have some energy-boosting carbs, such as a banana or raisins, every hour.
After: First, drink water to replace the fluids you sweated out. Then refuel with a snack or meal within two hours. It should contain carbs and protein, such as whole–grain crackers with hummus or tuna salad.
“Exercising can cause tiny tears in muscle fibers,” says Angelone. Your body uses protein to repair them, which may help ease soreness and build strength. But don’t overdo it; people tend to overcompensate after exercise. “You don’t want to undo your hard work,” says Angelone.
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