Do you know what to eat before and after your workout? This is a popular question from people just starting out in their fitness journey. Getting your diet on point is a science and any custom to you plans should be created by a registered dietician/nutritionist (remember that!) but there are some general tips and tricks I can share with you to get you started!
What To Eat:
Before – Carbs! Carbs are your friends. I know you’ve heard that carbs are bad and should be avoided if you want to lose weight but I promise, you want a little carbs in your life. Carbs = ENERGY. Good carbs (whole grains/wheats, fruits) turn into the energy your muscles need to push you through a killer workout. You should eat a little something 30-90 minutes before you workout like toast with PB and banana, some oatmeal with berries, crackers or rice cakes.
After – Protein! Protein is what is going to help your muscles repair themselves and grow. When you workout (especially strength train) you make tiny tears in your muscles. Protein helps repair these tears. The sooner you get in some protein after your workout, the better! Some ideas of good protein sources are protein shakes or bars (be really careful they aren’t full of sugar!), lean meats like chicken or fish, eggs, or Greek yogurt.
There ya go! A quick reminder of what to eat before and after your workout. Carbs = Energy, Protein = Repair. Energy before, repair after.
Macros, short for Macronutrients, are the parts that make up the calories that you eat. There are 3 macronutrients that go into your total calorie count. They are Fats, Carbohydrates, and Proteins. The combination of these macros give you your daily calorie totals.
Breaking it down:
1g Carbs = 4 calories
1g Fat = 9 calories
1g Protein = 4 calories
Each one of those macros plays a big part in your health and fitness journey and it is important that you get the right amount of each one. You can find many free macro calculators online, like the one at Bodybuilding.com, that will give you daily macro goals based on your age, height/weight, and activity level as well as your fitness goals.
When you have your daily macro grams you can figure out your daily calorie goals. You can also use websites like My Fitness Pal to track your food and keep count of your macros and calories. When you log into MFP, you can go to Goals from the home page, then edit your Daily Nutrition Goals. Move the percentages around until you come close to your Macro gram goals. For me that comes to 40% Carbs and Protein, and 20% Fat. Plugging in those numbers gives me a general calorie goal to aim for. From there I can track my food and see where I’m at as far as meeting those goals.
Tip: If using a website like MFP, add all of your meals for the day in the night before. That way you can see it all laid out and know that your macros are spread and you’re not struggling at the end of the day when you realize you’ve been binging on carbs and need to get in more protein.
Tracking and following your macros has become a big deal in the diet/fitness world. It’s more than just counting calories. IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) is a popular website that can also give you macro goals and help you learn more about flexible dieting. The idea with this way of eating is that you are allowed to treat yourself and not cut out ALL the things you love…as long as eating them fits into your daily macros. Want a cupcake? Go for it. But remember that will cut into your macros and you will need to adjust for it in other meals during the day.
No matter what you choose to follow remember that to lost weight you need to be burning more calories than you consume so make sure you’re crushing your workouts! Also, I definitely recommend tracking your food for a few days, eating the way you normally would, and see what you learn about your calorie and macro intake. From there you can see where to modify (less carbs, more protein, less fat?) to reach your goals.
*I am not a registered dietician or doctor. This post is meant to provide general information and knowledge on nutrition and macronutrients for a healthy person. Please consult your doctor before starting any fitness program.