– Nutrition is considered one of the essential parts of your workout. You can’t get the fruitful results of your workout without the proper nutrition. Whether training for your next PR or simply moving your body to feel good, your food is key for bulletproof results and feeling great all the way through. So whether your focus is getting in shape, taking your favorite sport to the next level, or simply wanting to greet each day with more energy, the nutrients you fuel your cells with before, during, and after exercise are the master key to unlocking your body’s potential.
But at one point or another, you’ve probably felt the consequences of exercising without the right fuel. Maybe you were completely drained of energy afterward, battled a grueling headache, or came face to face with the bottom of a chip bag thanks to an insatiable appetite. These are the standard byproducts of moving your body without offering it the nourishment it needs to get the job done well.
Contrarily, when your body receives the right nutrition at the right time, you get better results with greater ease. Your nutrition is the key to enhanced results and recovery from oxidative stress and inflammation. Further, your food choices can account for up to 50% of your total results from your workout and 80% of your recovery.
Your food choices can account for up to 50% of your total results from your workout and 80% of your recovery.

Here are the four cornerstones of exercise nutrition:

Here are the four cornerstones of exercise nutrition_

1. Fluids

Dehydration is the number one source of decreased performance in trained athletes. Just a 2% loss of fluids can lead to a 10% loss in strength and an 8% loss in speed. Because dehydration can significantly compromise performance, strive to hydrate before, during, and after exercise. Drinking 4-8 oz. of cool liquids every 15-30 minutes during exercise is recommended to regulate body temperature and prevent dehydration and muscle tightness.
A side note on caffeine: A caffeine boost has remained shown to heighten endurance and alter the perception of exercise intensity. While for some, coffee can acidify the body, delay hormone balance, and even kick anxiety into overdrive, L-theanine, found almost exclusively in tea, is coveted for its effects on mental performance and focus. Combining l-theanine and caffeine, such as green or black tea, has improved cognitive focus and attention while helping maintain alkalinity and reducing the strain on stress hormones.

2. Electrolytes

Hydration is key, but the proper balance of electrolytes to water is even more essential for energy and athletic recovery. Electrolytes are minerals that control fluid balance, blood volume, heart rate, and body temperature. Six essential electrolytes are needed in proper balance to equalize your body: sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium. Unfortunately, popular brands like Gatorade only contain four of the six electrolytes, leaving your body lacking the support it needs to rehydrate properly. Coconut water is an excellent source of electrolyte-charged hydration. Not a fan of coconut water? This electrolyte powder passes our test for balance, quality, and taste and, most importantly, allows your body to function optimally before, during, and long after your sweat session.

3. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source, and hardworking muscles need them. The harder and longer you work out, the more your body needs to replenish carbohydrates to replace the loss of glycogen (energy), restore your blood sugar levels, and stimulate muscle synthesis. It is the most efficient way to reduce post-workout fatigue and avoid an insatiable appetite later.

4. Protein

Protein is very crucial for building and maintaining muscle and for muscle recovery. Consuming high-quality, easy-to-digest protein helps repair and build new muscle in response to exercise. Contrary to popular belief, extremely high intakes of protein are not necessary to increase muscle growth or performance and might be one of the biggest sports nutrition mistakes people make. Only 30 grams of protein is absorbable by our body at a time. Hence, mega-dosing more than that in one serving will only burden the kidneys before getting peed out. It’s not ideal for your body or wallet.

Pre – Workout

When: 15-30 Minutes Before A Workout
Eating the right pre-workout foods will maximize your energy output and performance. These foods should be high in energy-producing carbohydrates, moderate in protein, low in fat, and familiar to you. It’s best to have a small serving 15-30 minutes before a workout. Here are some ideas:
Fruit (banana, orange, dates, etc.)
No-Bake Energy Bites
Crackers and peanut butter
Oatmeal with berries
If you’ve eaten a larger meal about an hour or so earlier to your workout, probabilities are you can get away with lacking a pre-workout snack (unless muscle growth is your aim or you’re engaging in endurance/high-intensity work)

During Workout

When: Only If Over One Hour, Every 60 Minutes
Research supports the benefits of carbohydrate consumption for endurance workouts lasting more than 60 minutes. If carbohydrate foods remain consumed during prolonged endurance activity, they should be low in fat and protein to minimize digestive distress. Foods such as bananas, dates, raisins, and other snacks may be consumed in small amounts approximately every 60 minutes in addition to fluids during workouts lasting over one hour.
Add electrolytes to your water when exercising for over one hour or in hot or humid temperatures.

Post – Workout

When: Immediately After Or Within 30 Minutes
What you eat after your workout can be as important as the workout itself. Ideally, it should include sources of both protein and carbohydrates and be consumed immediately after exercise (no more than 30 minutes after) to trigger the anabolic recovery state. It will help to ease inflammation and soreness and maximize muscle synthesis. In general, here are some ideas for what post-workout nutrition could look like:

  • Protein shake — try this Blueberry Ginger Smoothie.
  • Flourless protein pancakes.
  • Greek yogurt with berries.
  • Oatmeal with plant protein mixed in.
  • You can have half a tuna or chicken salad wrap.
  • You can even have a wholesome meal like a sweet potato, vegetable, and protein.

Conclusion – To conclude, keep these general guidelines in mind. Just as your pre-workout nutrition remains determined by your goal (i.e., muscle building, maintenance, or public health), your post-workout nutrition will also differ. Everyone needs something different per their unique body and activity level, duration, intensity, and environmental conditions.