Never is it more apparent that you are what you eat than when you are exercising. What you bring to the workout and whether or not your body can achieve peak performance and maximum benefits is all about your eating choices.
As we focus on heart health this month in support of Go Red For Women, it’s the perfect time to discuss food options that will energize you and support your heart function before and after you sweat it out.
What to Eat Before a Workout
When it comes to the best pre-workout foods, carbs are at the top of the list. Mix complex and simple choices to achieve a slow and steady release of energy that will keep you feeling your power through the whole regimen.
Whole-Wheat Toast with Fruit
Combine whole wheat toast with fruit for an energy boost that is delicious and easy to digest. If you’re training for a race, add a banana to raise potassium levels. A dash of cinnamon may seem superfluous, but is actually believed to positively impact both blood sugar and brain function. Cinnamon it is!
Greek Yogurt and Trail Mix
Paired with trail mix, Greek yogurt is just what the long-distance runner ordered. It’s the perfect combination of pre-workout proteins and can give your body the extra kick it needs to get moving. Stick to a trail mix that is heavy on the nuts and dried fruit—and light on the fun fillers like carob and chocolate. Remember, don’t overindulge. A little goes a long way and too much can make you feel sluggish and slow you down when you need to be revving up
Smoothies are the go-to-choice for grabbing pre-workout nutrition on the run. As you’re flying out the door, it’s easy to combine your favorite sliced fruit, a cup of Greek yogurt and some granola for crunch. If the smoothie store is on your way to the gym, make sure yours is a blend made with whey or milk based protein.
Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit
Oatmeal is not sexy like a smoothie, but as pre-workout nutrition, is the gift that keeps giving, gradually releasing sugar into your bloodstream throughout your whole workout. Throw in some fruit for extra pre-workout hydration.
Apple Wedges with Almond Butter
An apple and almond butter a day, keep the cardiologist away. You’ve got your sugar and the vitamins, minerals and anti-toxins that make apples both delicious and healthy. And you’ve added a smear of protein for an energy boost. A pre-workout meal made in heaven.
What to Eat After a Workout
You’ve worked hard and now your body needs foods to assist in recovery and re-energizing.
Grilled Chicken and Mixed Vegetables
Make your heart beat for joy post workout, with chicken, lean protein that will fill you up without making you feel overly bloated. Veggies cooked in olive oil make this combination high on the list of heart healthy choices.
Veggie Omelet with Avocado
Eggs are not only a great source of protein, they also aid in muscle recovery and growth. Create a delicious omelet with vegetables and a couple slices of avocado for fiber and those good monounsaturated fats.
Salmon with Sweet Potato
Salmon is the multi-tasker of heart healthy choices. Along with its value as a source of protein, salmon helps reduce inflammation, regulate insulin levels and support joint health. Joining the benefit bandwagon, sweet potatoes help to restore glycogen levels which can become depleted during a workout.
Whole Wheat Tuna Fish, Hummus and Spinach Sandwich
This is a sandwich that wins the heart health trifecta. Tuna is high in protein and carbs, but low in calories. Hummus is high in fiber and beats mayo or mustard as a sandwich spread. Spinach is a superfood that packs a wallop, curbing your appetite, while it enhances your complexion and lowers your blood pressure. A win/win/win!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Remember, hydration is important before, during and after your workout. So, keep the water flowing at all times. There is no need to eat during your workout unless you are exerting yourself at high levels over a long period of time. In that case, it may be a good idea to grab a handful of raisins, a banana, or an energy bar to help you power through.
Fuel up with plenty of liquids and healthy, energizing foods before, during and after your workouts and your body will thank you—with every beat of your heart.