By Heather Bauer, RD, CDN Huffpost Healthy Living
Do you hop out of bed first thing in the morning and hit the gym? Maybe you prefer a late-night workout before bed. Either way, the food you consume pre- and post-workout are just as important as the workout itself. Many of us have had the experience of scarfing down a huge dinner post workout because we did not eat anything beforehand. Or, even worse, eating a large breakfast in a hurry before hitting the gym and, in turn, being faced with the dreaded side cramp. Following these simple rules will not only help you stay on track throughout the day, but will enable you to get the most out of your workout.
The Morning Mover: Are you a morning person? The kind that can roll out of bed, throw on your sneakers and heads for the gym? Then eating a full breakfast may actually not be ideal. You body needs time to digest the food you consume and this process usually takes about one to two hours. If you do not have that kind of time in the morning then saving breakfast until after your workout may be best. A great way to get in vitamins and nutrients quickly before a workout is with a green juice. No juicer? No problem. If you are running short on time a great substitution is a juice in powder form called ROOTS by deeply rooted. Just mix into water and you can get yours days' worth of vitamins and nutrients, as well as increasing energy, detoxifying your body, and assisting in weight management.
The Lunch-Timer: If you fall into the lucky group that can fit your workouts in during the day, my first recommendation is to make sure you drink plenty of water the first half of the day. I always say a liter by lunch is a great way to stay on track. Water will keep your body well hydrated, as well as keeping you fuller so you do not have a large lunch beforehand. If you plan on eating your lunch before you begin your workout, like I said before, make sure you give yourself at least an hour so you can digest.
A light option like a veggie burger over greens with a reduced-fat dressing and a hand fruit (ie: orange, apples etc.) is a great option. Dr. Praegers has great veggie burger options. Keep a few on hand in your freezer when you are looking for a fast, light lunch. If you are eating lunch after your workout you can opt for something a bit more substantial. Try a veggie burger or lean turkey burger in a high fiber wrap with some low fat cheese and a side of fruit.
The Late-Nighter: Busy days can force us to push our workouts toward the end of the day. If you fall into the dinner-time crowd, making sure you do not overeat is your biggest challenge. After a long day followed by a rigorous gym session it is easy to raid the refrigerator as soon as you get home. A good tip is to have a small, low-calorie snack waiting for you when you get home. This will hold you over while you prepare a healthy dinner. If you are in a rush to eat your dinner, Amy's Kitchen makes delicious and healthy frozen meals with options to fit any dietary need. A great way to stay on track is to monitor what you eat. Keeping a food journal can help you to see exactly what you have eaten throughout the day. There are also tons of great apps out there that are easier than keeping a food journal. Bon'app allows you to not only keep track of what you have eaten so far in the day, but also monitors the nutritional content of your favorite recipes. Another bonus for the late-night group -- studies have shown that working out at night can actually lead to a better night sleep.