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We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the daybut for those who exercise regularly, having a meal before and after a workout is just as essential. It is crucial to understand that everybody’s nutritional requirements vary depending on their fitness levels and goals, therefore, use this article as a guide to determine the right balance of carbs, protein, and fats before and after your workoutto satisfy your hunger, get energy, aid in recovery and achieve major muscle gains.
Keep it light and simple. Having a carbohydrate-rich snack a few hours before a cardio workout can help you sprint, run downhill, and perform any type of cardio exercise for much longer than on an empty stomach. Apply a thin layer of peanut butter on toast and you’re good to go. Other healthy alternatives for peanut butter include avocado or one sliced hard-boiled egg for their hearty omega 3-goodness!
Your post-workout snack depends on your level of physical activity. If you run a few miles per week, we recommend a glass of delicious banana shake made with one banana and a cup of low-fat milk. It’s super easy and extremely effective in re-hydrating the body and providing the protein to aid in muscle fiber repair. Other alternatives include low-fat chocolate milk, a whey protein shake, or a banana and peanut butter shake if you’re looking for that added kick!
While most people like to associate carbohydrate intake with cardio, you need carbs for weight training too. If the glycogen reserves in your muscles are low, your weight training routine will be lacking that oomph too. ¼ cup of Greek yogurt with ½ and ½ cup of whole-grain cereal and blueberries will provide you with the complex carbs you need for a power-packed workout and slow-digesting casein and whey to build muscle. You can use granola, peanut butter, or sliced bananas as alternative toppings for your yogurt parfait.
After a strenuous workout session, you’ll want something that is rich in protein and is satiating. To make a black bean omelet, you’ll need four egg whites, ¼ cup of boiled or canned beans, and an ounce of low-fat cheese (optional). This will not only replenish your energy reserves but will provide you with a quick surge of protein to stimulate muscle synthesis.
A glass of green smoothie made with 4 cups of spinach, 1 banana, half a cup of berries and one cup of almond milk with ice is just what you need to fuel your body throughout your entire yoga workout. This smoothie consists of healthy carbs that help your muscles and brain function optimally without dipping into your glycogen reserves. Having the smoothie chilled will help you start your workout in a refreshed and reinvigorated state. Not a fan of green? Try a banana-berry smoothie instead.
Fruits such as oranges and strawberries are rich in water and potassium which work hand-in-hand to rehydrate you after a sweaty yoga session. The carbs from the fruit will replenish energy reserves and the slow-digesting protein from cottage cheese will aid in muscle repair.
If you’ve been doing Pilates for a while, you’re probably aware of the burning reps done several times during an entire Pilates session. For a workout as vigorous as Pilates, you need a lot of energy which you can get from a carb-rich pre-workout meal, hence, the oats. Just half a cup of cooked oatmeal along with one or two whole eggs can give you the energy and protein you need to survive and enjoy a grueling Pilates workout. If you’re vegan, scrambled tofu is a great alternative for eggs.
Whip up a tuna salad using tuna and any vegetables of your choice and add a couple of spoonfuls of it to three whole-grain crackers. This snack is not only filling and delicious, but it is also rich in protein, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates. Alternatives for tuna include tofu, soy cheese, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, or avocado.
You improve your blood chemistry, boost your insulin sensitivity, increase your metabolism and energy levels, you sleep better, work out efficiently, and much more. However, after having grains as a staple in your diet for so many years, going grain-free may be easier said than done.
Packaged products often have an allergen labeling, so you’ll be able to determine whether the item has gluten. In most cases, specific grains will be listed, so keep your eyes open for any type of grain, especially, wheat, barley, rye, spelt oats, Kamut, etc.
And have eggs instead. Eggs are incredibly versatile. From a basic sunny side up to a classic frittata, which can contain anything from green leafy vegetables and mushrooms to chicken bits, you can have a filling and heart-healthy breakfast by just being a little creative with eggs.
As odd as it may sound, cauliflower makes a fantastic addition to any meal and it can even replace your steamed rice. Either has grated cauliflower as rice with a side dish or curry of your choice or add it to your stir-fries and curries, making them super healthy and satiating.
Iceberg lettuce makes a fabulous wrap. It’s crunchy and tastes delicious with patties and kebabs. Just make a healthy version of your regular sandwich or burger filling and wrap lettuce around it. If you’re using patties, you may have to increase your serving amount to make the meal more filling as lettuce doesn’t have the same amount of mass as a bun or slice of bread.
Life can be tough without pizza so instead of having your regular white bread crust, try putting all your pizza toppings on an egg omelet. It’s similar to a cheese omelet but with meat, onions, and other elements you top your pizzas with. You can even replace the omelet with ground beef.
If you’re used to having sandwiches as quick and healthy lunch options, try switching to soups and salads. Soups can be made in advance and heated in a microwave and salads are easy to make by default. Who doesn’t love the sound of chopping crunchy greens anyway?
If you have a serious sweet tooth, avoiding cakes and pies may sound like torture. However, there are so many healthier dessert options you are yet to try, such as bananas with peanut butter and dark chocolate chips or strawberries dipped in melted dark chocolate. Yogurt with honey, nuts, and berries tastes fantastic too. Use ingredients such as banana, berries, strawberries, honey, agave, and cinnamon to naturally sweeten and enhance the flavor of your sweet treats.
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