Your Diet Before & After Your Workout Matters



“We ate pepper soup after practice,” said my younger son, who had gone to the stadium for the first time and participated in basketball training. “We are going again next week,” he added, and I knew he was more excited about the pepper soup their dad got them afterwards than the basketball training itself. Call him a foodie, and you are spot on.

After this revelation, I asked their dad if pepper soup was the right option after the practice, and predictably, “They are children and they need to eat. Besides, we walked home after we ate, so calories burnt.” was the answer I got.  And case closed.

A friend of mine, who was contemplating participating in the upcoming Lagos marathon, had a dilemma. He wanted to run, but he also had a Lagos party that day, and, as you can imagine, the indulgence at the party would be a serious temptation. He was already dreaming of the drinking spree he would go on, not to mention the food heaven he would enter, and wondered if running earlier, only to ruin it later in the afternoon at the wedding, was worth it at all?

Personally, I was of the opinion that he should go for the run, because I know by the time he got back, he wouldl be way too tired to get dressed like a Yoruba demon for  the party.

Obviously, the party was way more important to him than the marathon, but his health needed the marathon more than the wedding party. In the end, he didn’t go.

What you eat before a workout is important. If you’re going to put your body through the paces, you want to fuel it first with the right meals. And did you know that what you eat after a workout is really important, too?

When you are trying to lose weight, eating before you work out might seem counterproductive,  but according to dieticians, eating before working out helps to boost your energy levels. You can literally go harder for longer, which is a good thing at the end of the day.

As for what you eat afterwards, that is also important, as it helps your body to recover from the exertion of your work-out, and if it is the right kind of food, then it can help you to build bigger, stronger muscles.  Eating after a workout is all about replacing the calories you used up. For one, it’s important to replenish the glycogen that has been depleted during your exercise.

This simply means that you have to give much thought to what is on your plate before and after working out. This is to help maximize the benefits of all your hard work. 

While giving a thought to your meals, you also need to time the meals just right, to maximise its benefits.  It is ideal that you have a snack or meal 1 to 3 hours before you working out.

You can have tummy aches if you eat too close to the start of your exercise routine. That’s because more blood goes to your muscles during exercise, leaving less for digestion. After exercise, your body is ready to refuel and rebuild muscle tissue. It is advised that you eat within an hour of finishing.

In this piece, we will look at what your diet should consist of before and after your work out.


Simple carbs:

We all know that carbs are the bad guys, but we also know that carbs equal energy, and that is what you need before you hit the treadmill or whatever exercise routine you are on.

Honestly, when it comes to gearing up for a workout, carbs are your gym bestie. The key is to ensure that whatever you have leads to the slow and steady release of energy during your workout.

Before a workout, it’s good to eat simple carbohydrates, because they digest fast and provide quick energy. Some of the simple carbs you can have include a granola bar, a piece of fruit (think, banana), Greek yogurt (this contains carbs and protein), crackers or a piece of toast.



Stay hydrated:

It’s best to get your body hydrated before you even think about heading to the gym. One way to determine your overall hydration status is to check out colour of your urine first thing in the morning.  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, lemonade-coloured urine is a sign of appropriate hydration, while dark colored urine (think apple juice), indicates a deficit in H20.

While there are no hard and fast rules to determining how much water you need during exercise, a good place to start is drinking about 2 cups of water 2 to 3 hours before exercise, and 1 cup of water 10 to 20 minutes before working out. The goal here is to minimize dehydration—which can cause low energy, and muscle cramps or spasms.



You need to eat after a workout. When you don’t eat after a workout, you can end up fatigued and battling low blood sugar. You are also inhibiting your body’s repair process.

Complex carbs and protein:

Because of the increased need for nutrition of your body, simple carbs will not do. Better to go for complex carbs like whole wheat bread, brown rice or quinoa.

For protein, you can for some fish or beans.


Don’t forget to rehydrate:

Just as drinking water before working out is important, you need to rehydrate after exercising. You have sweated out some electrolytes that your neurons need to work well. In fact, rehydrating after working out is more important that eating right away.

Getting enough water after exercise depends on many factors, namely the length and intensity of the exercise, the environmental conditions, and your body make up.

With these tips, you should be able to get the maximum benefits from your work outs.

Knowledge is power.



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