Meal Planning: Before and After Training
Throughout my 16 years competing as a professional gymnast, I learned that meal planning and timing are crucial to my success in sports. It’s common knowledge that your body needs adequate fuel before and after you stress your muscles with a workout, but the science behind what fuel and when is not always so obvious. In order to build muscle, win a triathlon, or whatever your fitness goals may be, you must educate yourself on this “science”.
In my experience, I get the best results when I work out first thing in the morning. I’ve made a habit of setting my alarm for 6:30 a.m., making time to prep a power-boosting snack and arrive at the gym by 7:30 a.m. before it gets busy. I realize the idea of waking up early to work out first thing in morning is not the most exciting event of the day for everyone, but I find I have fewer excuses to skip the gym in the beginning of my day as opposed to the end of my day when I am mentally and physically drained. Not every morning is the same. Sometimes I depend on that small cup of black coffee to jump-start my morning. The caffeine in coffee can boost your energy to maximize your workout. But keep in mind; those are the results with black coffee. When you add cream and sugar, your body will use those for energy instead of tapping into your stored fat. If you don’t like coffee and still need an extra boost, try green/white tea.
Now that I’ve had my coffee, I am only halfway ready for the gym because there is no way I am going into a 1.5-hour weightlifting and cardio workout without feeding my body some proper nutrition. My number one choice is Nature’s Food Organic Protein in vanilla flavor mixed with about 8 oz. of water or unsweetened vanilla Almond Milk. I hate working out on a full stomach, so this combo not only hydrates me but provides 18g of organic rice protein to feed my muscles as I work out. It’s super light on the stomach, but it fills me up enough until I get home and eat a balanced breakfast.
I consider my post-workout meal the most important meal of the day. It should be stocked with protein, healthy fats and complex carbs to assist in fast recovery and promote muscle growth. Not to mention, this meal should ultimately stabilize your energy levels throughout the rest of your day when properly portioned. Try to consume your breakfast within that 30-minute window following your workout. Your muscles are depleted of their glycogen and need to be refueled before low blood sugar levels take a toll.
For some perfectly balanced breakfast ideas, I definitely have a few top post-workout meals to share! Currently, my favorite is Cottage Cheese with Almonds and Strawberries/Raspberries. My recipe: ½ cup of 1.5% milk-fat cottage cheese (15g protein), 15 dry roasted almonds, and about ½ cup of fresh sliced strawberries or 12 raspberries. Mix it together and there you have it! It is tasty and filling. Give it a try and stay tuned for more post-workout breakfast ideas @kristajasper.