The Best Foods to Eat Pre and Post-Workout

The Best Foods to Eat Pre and Post-Workout

If you ask any fitness maven walking (or more likely running) down the street, they will immediately condemn the idea of “fasted cardio”, referring to the method of not eating before a workout in order to burn and lose body fat.  They will tell you it is ineffective and potentially dangerous, and then probably start describing the simply seasoned chicken breast or protein-packed omelet (depending on what time of the day it is) they chowed down before they laced up their sneakers.

In order to get the full benefits of exercise, you need a healthy and balanced diet.  Whether you’re hiking outdoors or sweating it out in a spin class, the right foods before and after a workout provide you with more energy and aid your body in recovering faster.

The best food pre-workout is going to be packed with carbohydrates and proteins. Carbs are your muscles’ main energy source and protein helps to improve your muscles’ growth and recovery. You want to avoid eating too much fat before a workout as that will cause you to feel more sluggish and heavy, although healthy fats like avocado have been shown to be a good source of fuel for moderate-to-low intensity workouts. Ideally, you’ll want to eat 2-3 hours before a workout, so that your body has time to digest. Good sources of protein pre-workout include:

  • Apple wedges with peanut butter – Apples are a source of natural sugar, and combined with a protein like peanut butter can still be a great energy source
  • Chicken – Baked chicken is best.
  • Greek yogurt
  • Omelets
  • Homemade protein bars – Homemade is a great way to control what goes into your body!
  • Protein shakes

As your pre-workout time ticks down, eating a meal that contains mainly carbs and some protein is ideal to ensure digestion. Simple carbs like bananas, dried fruit, and fruit smoothies with a dash of protein powder provide a quick energy boost for a 30-60 minute workout, whereas complex carbs are slow releasing energy sources and have a slower metabolism rate.

Sources of carbs include:

  • Rice – Brown rice is ideal, combine with the chicken mentioned above and some veggies for a balanced, pre-workout meal!
  • Porridge/oatmeal
  • Wholegrain bread
  • Sweet potato
  • Pasta

Many of these foods can double up as energy sources post- workout as well. Complex carbs and proteins are a necessary foundation as the body rebuilds itself post workout. Proteins are key to help repair and rebuild muscle tissue. It’s recommended to eat your post-workout snack/meal within 30 minutes after the treadmill slows to a stop. And of course, make sure you are replenishing fluids to further help your recovery. So, get cooking, get running, happy workout and bon appétit!


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Sleep and Weight: What’s the Connection?

Sleep and Weight: What’s the Connection?

Nighttime approaches, but the Sandman does not. You lay in bed, eyes focused on the ceiling, or perhaps your phone. You set the phone down. Close your eyes. One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four… no luck.

You’ve been feeling drained, stressed, and unhealthy – maybe your poor sleep habits are to blame.

We reached out to Babak Saedi, MD, and Director of Sleep Medicine at Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles, to help us better understand the connection between sleep and weight.

This is what he shared:

Sleep plays a critical role for our physical and emotional health. Without it, we lack the energy necessary to get through the day. Sleep deprivation impacts our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness; it affects our mood and stress levels; it also increases our risk for heart disease. Plus, not getting enough sleep is linked with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and depression. While almost everyone feels sleepy in the daytime now and then, sleep debt can affect our concentration and reaction time, becoming the cause of serious problems like car crashes and work-related accidents. Poor sleep is also linked to increased pain perception and a degraded quality of life.

How much sleep is needed for optimal health?

Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep and kids – depending on their age – need between eight to eleven hours.

How does sleep affect our weight?

In order for us to achieve any health or fitness goal, we must make sleep a priority. Whether we want to maintain or lose weight, gain muscle mass, perform better or simply feel better, getting enough high-quality sleep is key to reaching our weight and fitness goals.

If you’re tired, you have less energy. Even if you can get yourself to workout, the intensity of that workout isn’t the same as when you’re well rested, and as a result, you burn less calories.

You’re more likely to eat more and consume extra calories from high fat and high sugar foods to cover the energy cost of staying awake.

Lack of sleep impacts our hunger (ghrelin) and satiety (leptin) hormones. It also causes a spike in our cortisol levels, signaling our body to conserve energy to fuel our waking hours.

It affects our body’s ability to properly respond to insulin signals. Excess insulin increases the storage of fat in fat cells and prevents fat cells from releasing fat for energy.

Lack of sleep slows the production of growth hormone, which can make it more difficult for your body to build muscle mass.

11 Tips for Better Sleep


1. Take a hot shower 1-2 hours before bedtime.

2. Make your sleeping environment comfortable. The temperature, along with light and noise should be controlled to make the bedroom conducive to sleeping. It’s also important to choose a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillow.

3. Go to bed only when sleepy. Once in bed, if you cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, leave the bedroom for another room. After getting up, it’s important to remain calm, which means avoiding bright-lights or engaging in activities that will lead to more alertness (including chores or games on the computer, phone or tablet). Return to bed once you feel sleepy. Until then, stay out of the bedroom.

4. Limit bedroom activities to only sleeping and intimacy. Avoid watching television, using electronics, playing games or studying while in bed.  Also, avoid clock watching. All of these activities increase alertness and make it difficult to fall asleep.

5. Avoid eating or drinking right before going to bed. Eating a late dinner or snacking before going to bed can activate the digestive system and keep you awake. Eating before bedtime can also worsen acid reflux or heartburn symptoms.  Avoid drinking too much before bedtime because it can cause the need to urinate frequently throughout the night.

6. Avoid smoking, caffeinated beverages, alcohol and other stimulants. The effects of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can last several hours after use, which cuts into sleep time. Caffeine can cause difficulty falling asleep and frequent awakenings, while alcohol is known to create a non-restful night’s sleep and frequent urination.

7. Avoid daytime naps. It is important to establish and maintain a regular sleep and wake-up pattern. Napping during the day, especially after 2 p.m., makes it difficult to fall asleep at bedtime. If one must take a nap during the day, it should be early, around midday, and should only last about 20 minutes.

8. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can improve sleep quality and duration. However, avoid exercising close to bedtime because it can have a stimulating effect on the body. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before it’s time to sleep.

9. Wake up the same time each day. Waking up the same time every day regardless of how much sleep you’ve had helps to regulate your internal clock (circadian rhythm) and predict your bedtime. Try to keep the same sleep and wake-up time on work/school and non-working/school days, especially if you are a shift-worker.

10. Set aside time to plan. If you find that you lay in bed thinking about tomorrow, consider setting aside a time at night to review the day and make plans for the next day. The goal is to avoid doing these things while trying to fall asleep. It may also be helpful to make a to-do list.

11. Reduce Stress. Aim for two hours of relaxation time before bedtime. There are a number of relaxation therapies and stress reduction methods to relax the mind and body before going to bed. You may want to take a warm bath, do some light reading, listen to white noise or relaxing audio tapes, do some deep breathing exercises or practice meditation.

Responses and tips above provided by Babak Saedi, MD, and Director of Sleep Medicine at Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles. Questions provided by Mayra Suarez, Senior Media Relations Representative at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.


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The 5 Types of Yoga You Have to Try: Let’s Take a Mindful Minute

The 5 Types of Yoga You Have to Try: Let’s Take a Mindful Minute

“Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists.” – Anonymous

For a complete body, mind, and soul transformation, Yoga is all-inclusive. This healthy lifestyle workout both strengthens and brings relaxation to your overall body. Having originated approximately 5,000 years ago in India, this age-old practice continues strong today.

Some describe Yoga as a science, while others praise it as a way to combine the physical realm with the spiritual realm. Whichever way you choose to see it, one thing is certain: Yoga is here to stay.

But, what is Yoga exactly?

According to the Art of Living, Yoga is all about “harmonizing the body with the mind and breath through the means of various breathing exercises, yoga poses (asanas) and meditation.”1

If you’re new to this form of fitness, don’t be intimidated – the necessities needed for Yoga are pretty basic.

Here are a few tips for the new Yogis out there:
  1. When it comes to clothing, body-fitting, comfortable clothing works well.
  2. Yoga requires a lot of fluid body movements, so try to wear clothing that doesn’t constrict you in any way. Women typically opt for leggings and a somewhat form-fitting top, while men usually wear shorts, however loose pants work just as well.
  3. No shoes or socks are required for classes.
  4. As for a Yoga mat, LA Fitness offers complimentary mats for members to use during yoga. If you prefer to bring in your own, that is perfectly fine too!

The Health Benefits of Yoga

The health benefits of Yoga are astounding. Research has proven that Yoga can help reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, aid in improvement of chronic back pain, help lower blood sugar and speed nerve impulses in those suffering from diabetes, boost energy, mood, have positive effects on those battling obesity, heart disease and cancer – amongst many others.2 It’s amazing how such a gentle workout approach can be so beneficial to our bodies.

Below is a list of five different styles of Yoga that are an absolute must-try for Yoga enthusiasts.

1. Bikram Yoga For Healing

Bikram Yoga is a form of Yoga that involves repeating the same set of 26 poses in set cycles over a 90-minute time frame. As taken from the official Bikram Yoga site, this style is meant to “work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.”3 Bikram style yoga is often grouped together with hot yoga, due to the fact that these classes take place in a hot room, either at or above body temperature.

2. Yin Yoga For Relaxation

Imagine Yin Yoga as a slower-paced version of basic yoga. Now before you think this sounds boring, it’s actually quite challenging, while still bringing relaxation to your body. Yin Yoga requires its students to hold postures, or asanas, for longer periods of time. This is supposed to target the deeper tissues of the body rather than the superficial tissues alone. It’s not uncommon for poses to be held 3 to 5 minutes at a time, sometimes even as long as 20 minutes. The poses for this style yoga are similar in form to one meditating.

3. Iyengar Yoga For Strength and Stamina

Iyengar Yoga is a form of Hatha yoga that was developed by Yoga Master B.K.S. Iyengar. It corrects alignment of all parts of the body and establishes a sense of well-being. The precision of each pose assists in building strength, stamina, balance, and flexibility. If you’re a fan of varied exercise, this style may be for you, given that no routine is ever exactly the same. This method is all about developing better attention to detail.

4. Bhakti Yoga For Love

This yoga practice may be for love, but not in the traditional romantic way we may first come to think of. Bhakti is one of the major six branches of yoga, which focuses on cultivating a love and devotion toward a personal god. Bhakti Yoga is also known as the path to self-realization. It’s a form of yoga that is recommended for those who feel they are in touch with their emotions. It’s the path of the heart and devotion. The ultimate goal of practicing Bhakti Yoga is to reach a state of pure bliss.

5. Ashtanga or Power Yoga For Weight Loss

Astanga Yoga is a type of yoga is based on eight principles: Yama (moral codes), Niyama (self-purification and study), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense control), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (absorption into the Universal). Power Yoga is an offshoot of Astanga Yoga, which uses the same poses, just sped up! If you’re looking for an intense workout that will leave you feeling good and full of sweat, you may want to give this style a try.

LA Fitness + Yoga

Feeling inspired to get your Yoga fitness on? LA Fitness has you covered. Find a Yoga class at a location near you by clicking, here. And for those of you seeking a different take on traditional yoga, consider trying out Yogabeat® and watch yourself dance gracefully throughout a series of varying poses while burning off those pesky calories.

In honor of National Yoga Month, invite a friend to join you to try out an LA Fitness Yoga class by sending them a guest pass here!

Sources: 

  1. “Yoga.” Art of Living (Global), www.artofliving.org/us-en/yoga.
  2. Link, Rachael. “13 Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga.
  3. “Home.” Bikram Yoga®, www.bikramyoga.com/.

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