If you exercise regularly, you will know the importance of recovery. Every time you workout, your body is placed under stress. The muscle fibres undergo micro-tears which are repaired by the body later. However, without the right type and amount of nutrition, it will not have the means to do that. You will lose muscle mass, endurance and strength. 

It will be challenging even to exercise since you will be tired all the same. To ensure optimal recovery and performance, you need to have suitable workout meals. Only a perfect combination of carbs, proteins and some fats will give you the desired results. 

Ideally, your pre-workout meal should have about 30 grams of high fibre carbohydrates, around 4 ounces of lean protein, 10 grams of healthy fats and two to three servings of vegetables. Some food choices can be turkey sandwiches, tomato, lettuce or sugar snap peas. Some berries, peanut butter, pineapple, and cottage cheese will also work just fine if you are short of time. 

For special health requirements, meals must vary, such as:

  • For muscle and weight gain 

Pre-workout – To build muscle, you should consume about 30 grams of protein and 30-40% of your daily carbohydrate intake before a workout. The best choices for pre-workout protein meals are fish, chicken, turkey, soy and nuts. For carbs, go with brown rice, oats, lentils, broccoli and pasta. You can get your share of healthy fats from items like avocado, nuts and olive oil. 

Post-workout – A post-workout meal will help you recover from an exercise session and ensure your muscles have the fuel to build themselves faster. It would help if you also ate after a workout for glycogen replenishment, avoiding muscle protein breakdown, increasing protein synthesis rate and activating muscle repair. When looking to gain weight and muscle, your meal should be high in protein and carbohydrates. Some fats will also prove helpful since you want to gain weight. Opt for complex carbs like yams, oats, rice and potatoes. You might also eat fish, oatmeal, peanut butter and whole eggs. You could try some rice combinations: beef stew and brown rice, meatballs with spanakopita rice, Mongolian beef with brown rice, and Portuguese chicken with broccoli rice. 

  • For losing weight 

Pre-workout – To lose weight, you have to pay attention to what you eat before working out. In simple terms, you will lose weight when you burn off more calories than you intake. Any pre-workout meal you eat should provide you with sufficient energy without increasing your calorie intake significantly. Protein bars with under 300 calories but at least 10 grams of protein are one of the best ways of ensuring this. You could also go for different nuts, including almonds that are calorie-dense and come in small packs. Other great pre-workout choices for those looking to lose weight are banana with peanut butter, fat-free yogurt with chia seeds, oatmeal and scrambled eggs with low-fat cheese. 

Post-workout – You have to eat a meal after your workout for muscle recovery. However, it should consist of the right amount of carbohydrates and proteins. You could consider some food items like broccoli, grilled salmon, garlic roasted brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes. Other choices are fruit, healthy starchy carbs like quinoa, whole-grain bread, and lean proteins like turkey, chicken, and fish. However, avoid highly processed foods or empty calories at all times.

  • Meals for diabetics

If you have diabetes, then you cannot afford to miss a single day of exercise. Studies say that people with diabetes should do aerobic activity for about 150 minutes weekly. Your insulin and blood sugar levels will be lowered automatically. You also need to choose your workout meals carefully. Medical experts claim that eating before and after workouts is mandatory for people with diabetes. 

People with diabetes should have a meal within 15 minutes after a workout. The reason is that exercise utilizes insulin more efficiently. The blood sugar is lowered for 24 hours, creating a lag effect. If your body does not get proper fuel within that duration, you could end up getting hypoglycemia. A few post-workout choices are a half-cup of oatmeal, two slices of whole-grain toast, two to three eggs, a portion of cheese, a single cup of berries and a medium-sized potato. You can also get your proteins from cottage cheese, nuts and string cheese. 

Thus, eating the right kind and amount of pre and post-workout meals is essential for those looking for weight loss, weight gain or people with diabetes. Fuelling your body in the right way will ensure that you achieve your fitness goals and remain healthy. 

Image by Sean Hayes from Pixabay 

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