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What You Eat Before & After A Workout Is Just As Important As The Workout Itself

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“How can I lose 10 lbs in five days?” That’s the number one question I get asked as a pro FitGirl. And the second question I am always asked is, “What should I eat before and after I work out?” Well since the first question is totally against my RAD girl beliefs, I am glad to answer the latter.

Many people drastically overestimate how much they “deserve” to eat post sweat and even more folks have no idea what grub they should start their workouts with. I mean I can’t tell you how many times I have been working with a client, they get dizzy or exhausted super early in the session and when I ask them, “When was the last time you ate?” the answer is usually way too long ago! Food is fuel RADicals, so may these tips help you eat, drink and sweat at an optimal level.

Pre-Workout Tips

1) Come On Carbs!

The worst mistake you can make pre-workout is skimping on carbs. Carbs are your gym bestie. The key is to have a mix of complex and simple ones. This will allow the release of energy during your workout to be slow and steady throughout your routine. A good example of this combo is whole wheat toast with fruit. This power duo of pre-workout fuel gives you both types of carbs with the bonus of being super easy to digest. Complex carbs will keep your engine running during those long runs and the fruit adds an extra kick of energy.

2) Pregame With Protein

And while you’re at it, throw some nut butter on that whole wheat toast. Protein before a sweat session is a great idea since you need protein for your muscles and for your blood cells to function and receive oxygen. But don’t OD! 10 to 20 grams of protein before exercise is plenty. Think a boiled egg, Greek yogurt or a scoop of protein powder in your favorite smoothie.

3) Take (The Right Kind Of) Shots

The last essential element in your pre-workout pregame is hydration. The correct or incorrect amount of fluids can either rev you up or wipe you out during your workout. Water acts as your body’s cooling system so don’t mess around and get dehydrated yall. Drink like a boss by drinking water or light fluids like unsweetened tea or seltzer with meals. Then once you’re ready to hit the gym drink about 2 cups (16 ounces) of water two hours before.

However, while we’re on topic of drinking like a boss, skip that workout hour after happy hour. Tequila and grapefruit mix well, tequila and sweat – not so much. Sure you may think that one glass of wine you had pre-bootcamp won’t affect your burpee game, but it so can and so will. When you exercise your body uses glucose that’s stored in your liver for fuel – the same exact place where alcohol gets metabolized. So now your liver is like “what?! Glucose levels low = low energy, and low energy = wack workouts. Also pre-gaming for your workout where cocktails hang out puts you at a higher risk for injury. Exercise creates inflammation in your body, and so does alcohol. Can you say inflammation on fleek – hello injures.

Post-Workout Tips

1) Eat Already!

You worked it out our like you play for Team USA yet post sweat you eat like you’re on the Daniel Fast. Cray. Post-workout fuel is so crucial since this is when the body begins to repair itself. Speaking of repair, aim for anything that is protein packed. Protein helps your muscles recover and grow, and guess what, they don’t care where the protein comes from. So have an egg scramble, chocolate milk (my fave), a protein shake or just a straight up meal that has at least 4 oz of protein on the plate. Again, more isn’t better – you need only 10-20 grams of protein RADicals.

2) Get Your Blood Sugar Back

Not only should you eat, you should eat quick – think within 30 minutes after a workout. Doing so helps improve body composition by building more lean body mass and retaining less fat. So if you think you’re doing yourself a solid by skipping meals post sweat (well ever really) then think again. You have to get your blood sugar back on track. So if you feel dizzy or lethargic post workout that is a good indication that you didn’t fuel properly before (see above) and/or need to refuel for real for real now.

3) Drink Like You Mean It

About all that sweat you just dropped off during that rockstar workout – yeah, you have to replenish those fluids too. While sports drinks may be appealing (and sometimes necessary) good old H20 will do just fine. Not sure how much you should throw back? Jump on the scale pre and post workout. Any weight loss (is not real P.S.) means drink up. One pound lost = 16 oz. of rehydration fluid needed.

However, if you’re training for an endurance sport like your first half marathon, or your workout lasted longer than an hour then a well balanced sports drink may be necessary to replenish your potassium and electrolyte levels. Key word, well-balanced. Many sports drinks are loaded with sugar so be careful not to down a healthy packaged Kool-aid post that kick butt workout you just had. A good sports drink has 14-15 grams of carbohydrate (per 8 ounces) and should also have about 110 milligrams of sodium and 30 milligrams of potassium. A single serving is plenty so don’t OD here either.

Happy sweating! Eat, drink, sweat and repeat, boo.

More questions on pre and post workout grub? Ask below.

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