I’m speaking this week at Orangetheory to members in a session called: Fueling Your Workouts. Of course I’m presenting the information dietitian style. I hear a lot of encouragement in gyms from young trainers and see post-it’s and goals on the Orangetheory walls to “lose my dad-bod”, “lose 20#”, “get a 6-pack”. That’s all fine and I hope everyone reaches their goals. But for me, when I’m talking about fueling your workouts dietitian style, I’m much more concerned with your health and that you’re hydrated and eating a balanced diet that provides energy for your body.
When thinking about power foods that fuel workouts, go for whole, unprocessed foods that offer a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat. My list for Orangetheory includes the following:
Bananas – no added sugar (only natural!) Fiber and carbohydrate; rich in nutrients
Yogurt – can have upwards of 20 grams of protein. Choose a low-fat, low-sugar variety like Siggis
Nut butters – protein and unsaturated fat plus vitamins and minerals to support your workout.
Berries – antioxidants, water content, and complex carbohydrate
Eggs – rich in protein (7 grams per egg!), fat and nutrients, 1-2 eggs are a great snack
Hummus – balanced with complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat, hummus is a perfect fuel
Wondering what to eat before and after a hard workout?
If you haven’t eaten in the last three hours, have a pre-workout snack about 30 minutes before your workout. Try:
½ cup 2% plain yogurt with berries
½ cup trail-mix: dried fruit and nuts
Small apple with ½ tablespoon peanut or almond butter
Having a snack within a half-hour after your workout can help support muscle repair. Try a snack that combines carbohydrates and protein.
¼ cup hummus spread + whole grain crackers
Larabar, KINDbar, Rx bar, sports bar <200 calories
Rice cake + 2 tablespoons peanut/almond butter
2 hard boiled eggs + ½ cup fruit
I’ve also got a lot of simple recipes on the ChampagneNutrition blog that are perfect for pre- or post-workouts. Pink Party Quinoa Salad, Cran-Almond Energy Bars, Coconut Cherry Energy Balls, Oatmeal Raisin Energy Bites, or Green Iced Tea Breakfast Power Smoothie are simple and perfect to take along to your next workout.
Don’t forget hydration!
While I can’t tell a given person how much water they need exactly (it depends on so many factors!) I can suggest the following as a guideline of where to start:
- Drink at least 16 ounces post-workout because water is lost through sweat and exhalation.
- Arrive hydrates; dehydration can reduce athletic performance.
- For the level of exercise we’re doing, there is generally no need for sports drink replacements. You get enough sodium and electrolytes from food.
I like to keep it simple, healthy and sane – dietitian style – when it comes to fueling your workouts. Of course, if you’re an athlete, you’ll need a special program but for the rest of us at OrangeTheory, CrossFit, Barre and all the rest, we’ll likely be just fine if we stay hydrated with water and fuel properly with whole, balanced foods.
What do you think? How do you fuel your workouts?