Welcome to endurance sports season. Maybe you dusted off your bike and figured out how to put on a swim cap for a triathlon (the swim cap is really the hard part, I hear). Maybe you’re gearing up for a big race this summer. Chances are training already started for you. Training is way more than the hours spent pounding the pavement, it starts with that first bite your take in the morning and ends with that last sip of water. Don’t put low-quality fuel in your sports car, people. Run with these ideas for powering up your nutrition plan pre and post-workout.
Pre-run: reach for a carb-y snack
Nutritionists and trainers alike recommend that you grab a carb-rich snack before you hit the gym for an intense sweat session. When you’re looking at the options that are listed below, please take note of the fact that they’re all whole foods. That’s on purpose. High. Quality. Fuel.
Banana: In FabFitChicago’s interview with Lisa Payne, she sang the praises of the banana:
“I tell [my clients] they have to – HAVE TO – it’s non negotiable – eat something an hour or two before they can work out. A banana is perfect. You read any fitness magazine and they’ll say a banana because it’s got potassium in it, which if you’re a little dehydrated will kind of help keep those minerals up and it’s just enough to get you through the workout. Because if you’re working out on an empty stomach you’re more likely to overeat after working out. If you would just take 100 calories to eat a banana a hour or two before your workout. Then you’ll probably eat less overall. You’ll have that energy to give your workout as much energy as you can…”
Toast: If you eat a piece of toast about an hour before you work out, you’ll stay powered up as you’re working out. If you love nut butters like we do, watch yourself if you plan to slather on. Your 100-200 calorie snack can quickly double in calories.
A small smoothie: Drink one serving of our fruity green smoothie, or about half the recipe According to MyFitness Pal, this recipe has about 164 calories, but that can vary a little depending on the size of the fruit you use.
Post-run: grab a snack that has a 4:1 carb:protein ratio
Lowfat chocolate milk: I know this sounds way too good to be true, but I assure you it’s not a trap. Lowfat chocolate milk has the perfect ratio of carbs and protein to help you recover after strenuous exercise. Did you take a 45-minute run? Chocolate milk is the perfect way to replenish and refuel your muscles after you’ve finished your cool down. I’ve been drinking a glass of lowfat chocolate milk post-run for about a year and not only is it the right stuff for your muscles, I’ve started to really look forward to a frosty glass full.
And science is on its side: “Several studies have found that subjects who drank regular or flavored milk after a rigorous workout experienced less exercise-induced muscle damage than those who drank typical sports drinks or water.”
Banana with 1 TBS almond butter: Bananas. Nature’s greatest fruit. They come in a to-go package and they’re made of the right stuff for pre and post-workout. AND it’s the perfect vessel for delicious almond butter to restore those muscles after you finish a tough workout.
What do you reach for when you finish a run?
(Disclosure: I’m a Women’s Health Action Hero helping to promotion RUN10FEED10. Not only are we working to help end hunger in our own communities through FEED, we get to test out some of the products straight from the pages of Women’s Health. Delicious chocolate milk was provided for this post by as a part of that partnership. As always, I only write about the stuff I believe in.)